In a genuine democracy, the traditions and independent institutions of the country offer a guarantee of political stability when the elected leader can no longer wield power. But Mr. Chávez would have none of that, irresponsibly tearing down all rival sources of power in his 14-year drive to build a one-man government. As a result, the prospect of instability, even political and social turmoil, appears all too real should his absence become permanent. Never have the failures of Mr. Chavez’s project seemed more obvious. The president created his movement atop a faction-riven foundation whose base includes political rivals more likely to be at each other’s throats than to stick together in a leadership crisis.