CARACAS (AFP) - President Hugo Chavez on Saturday marks 10 years in power during which he increasingly has put socialist goals ahead of democratic pluralism, and now wants to lead his revolution for at least another decade. Just last week Chavez announced he was seeking a constitutional amendment to allow himself to seek reelection again, saying he hoped to lead the South American OPEC nation "as long as God and the people want me to." The arch-critic of the United States and key ally of communist Cuba directed his United Socialist party (PSUV) to seek a "constitutional amendment and reelection of the president" saying he was "ready (to govern) through 2021." The flamboyant Chavez, whose populist rhetoric and tough talk long has won the support of most Venezuelans, only a year ago saw the first challenges to his leftist revolution surface, and is scrambling to contain any losses. Meanwhile, soaring oil prices that have kept his coffers overflowing have slid. In December 2007, a referendum that sought to declare Venezuela a socialist state and allow unlimited reelection did not prevail, and dealt former paratrooper Chavez his first major defeat at the ballot box. Last month, Chavez's party scored a string of victories in local polls, but in a blow to his socialist revolution the opposition won some major power centers. As such Chavez, also an ally of fellow oil giants Iran and Russia, lost some "mandate" authority in his quest to abolish term limits to try to win a third six-year term in 2012. The results were a tremor on the political landscape of the nation, reducing the almost blanket authority of Chavez and his party. "The symbols won by the opposition are more than expected: they won the capital and states representing the economic and political heart of the country," Luis Vicente Leon from Datanalisis said at the time. Whether Chavez has succeeded in the past 10 years of course depends on who is asked. Venezuela's government maintains that it has reduced poverty; many analysts abroad claim that is far from the case and that incomes have dropped. Caracas however includes people's new access to health care and education in the income equation, not part of the traditional formula yet hardly irrelevant. "Over these 10 years there are two areas in which progress cannot be denied: the fact the Constitution has been so greatly improved on human rights.... That is an achievement as is the raising of the profile of the country's poorest people," analyst Hector Fagundez of the Central University of Venezuela said at a recent forum here. Yet what has set Chavez apart from his Cuban allies are the facts that Venezuela had decades of democratic tradition before he came to power, and that he has chosen to bolster his legitimacy repeatedly at the polls. They are facts clearly not lost on him as he seeks endorsement at the ballot box even after seeing losses, and even as he strains to remain in power. Critics also complain about soaring crime rates and a bad attitude towrd business under Chavez. Since 2007, the government has nationalized many businesses and assets in the oil, telecoms, steel and power-generating industries. "There have been mistakes and some inexperience over these 10 years. It has been a learning process and we have learned," PSUV lawmaker Earle Herrera said. "The revolution has staked its life on that, whatever problems there are, if they are not solved swiftly, whoever is in charge won't be for long." Human Rights Watch has complained Chavez was elected to democratize a largely discredited political system and squandered his chance to do so in the 1999 Constitution. The Democratic Action and Christian Democratic COPEI parties that ruled for decedes before Chavez have not rebuilt their authority, and so far no major force has emerged to counter the president. "Chavez thinks that after him, there simply is no one, and that is not the case," said Ismael Garcia, a lawmaker with the Podemos Party that was allied with Chavez until 2007 before joining the opposition. "This country will move ahead with or without him," Garcia said. "He has a term, and some rules to respect that are plain to see in the Constution, and they just can't be changed overnight."