October 11, 2012

Chavez Proves Autocrats Can Win at Ballot Box

Clive Crook, Bloomberg

AP Photo

Hugo Chavez is something of a challenge to the worldview of many rich-country observers. His election victory this week has given him, health permitting, a new six-year term as Venezuela’s president. He’s the leading elected autocrat in Latin America and maybe the world.

“Elected autocrat” is a confusing category. According to the model that prevailed for decades after 1945, there are really just two kinds of state: free and unfree. Democracy, good. Autocracy, bad. Chavez represents a third way, one that might be catching on. (Think of the former Soviet Union and the Arab Spring.) He teaches us an important lesson: Democracy isn’t enough.

The reaction to his latest election victory is revealing. Some, a small minority to be sure, celebrate it as democracy at...

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TAGGED: Hugo Chavez, Venezuela

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