Chavez Vows to Radicalize after Venezuela Election

Sunday, 03 Oct 2010 05:17 PM

* Declares socialism only answer to Venezuela's problems

* Dismisses opposition glee as "15 minutes of drunkenness"

By Daniel Trotta

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez vowed to "radicalize" his socialist revolution even further after legislative elections that gave the opposition one of its strongest showings during his more than 11 years in power.

Chavez's ruling Socialist Party won last weekend's vote by a slim margin, taking 5.45 million votes or 48.9 percent compared with 5.33 million votes or 47.9 percent for the newly united Democratic Unity umbrella group.

The result lifted the optimism of the opposition, which now sees a chance to unseat Chavez in 2012 presidential elections.

Investors and analysts are waiting to see the reaction of a man who has in the past come out of elections by nationalizing swathes of industry and attacking private capital.

"We are going to continue forward, democratically radicalizing the socialist revolution because it is necessary," Chavez said late Saturday to a television audience.

He dismissed the opposition celebration of a moral victory as "15 minutes of drunkenness."

Despite their thin overall vote advantage, the Socialists took a healthy majority in the National Assembly -- 97 seats compared to 65 for Democratic Unity. But the ruling party fell short of the two-thirds needed to pass major legislation and make appointments to key bodies such as the Supreme Court.

"Only through socialism will we get out of misery. I am dedicated to and decided on deepening the socialist and Bolivarian revolution," Chavez added Sunday in comments posted on Twitter, referring to Latin American independence leader Simon Bolivar.

He offered no details of what that would entail but he was pointedly critical of food warehouses that are still in private hands, saying that instead of being full of food they contained beer, rum, clothing and other products.

Venezuela-watchers have wondered what areas of the private sector Chavez might target next, with most speculation concentrated on greater control of the food, agricultural or banking sectors.

The election results came as Venezuela's oil-rich economy continues to shrink while most others in Latin American have been recovering from the global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009. Inflation is running at nearly 30 percent annually. (Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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