13 thoughts on “Chavez Surprised”

  1. I was indeed surprised that Venezuela’s electoral system, allegedly controlled by Chavez, didn’t cheat on the results, though they took a little while and it raised concerns.

    I am happy for Venezuela’s opposition, they won this one time after losing many other times against Chavez and if they manage this victory correctly it could lead them to overthrowing Chavez eventually.

    I am also happy to see that Venezuela’s majority didn’t buy Chavez’ nationalistic rhetoric, hopefully it is a sign that some Latin American nations are learning how to deal with populists like him.

  2. Very surprised. How does a dictator lose a referendum? I suspect that the actual result was much more favorable to the opposition than the close official result suggests. Perhaps Chavez miscalculated out of overconfidence, as the Sandinistas did in allowing an election that they lost.

    At about 8:00 yesterday morning I passed the building that houses the local Venezuelan consulate. There was a small crowd in front. I assume they were there to vote. When I passed by again at around 5:30 there were still a few people standing around.

  3. Well, the polls said he would lose. In fact, they said he would lose by a bigger margin than he did.

    But I have no idea how good the polls are in Venezuela.

    So I thought he might lose. And, of course, I hoped he would lose.

  4. Upside: Democracy is still alive in Venezuela.

    Downside: Chevez will now blame every problem on the failure of the referendum and will try to sneak in his power grabbing legislation a piece at a time.

    On the whole, however, I think this indicates a good trend. I think the vote represents a wide planetary phenomenon where cultures long ruled by despotic strongmen still gravitate to strongmen but at the same time the people want to maintain a say in who that strongman is. Call it authoritarian democracy. People get to elect their dictator.

    The real test of Chevez as a democratically elected leader will come when we see how if he accepts the vote. As Steven Den Beste once observed, being elected doesn’t make one a democratic leader, it’s being unelected and stepping down that makes one a democratic leader.

  5. I’m not sure why some Americans (perhaps not those on this site) believe that democratic processes can happen only in countries favorable to the US. Chavez was elected three times by large margins. One of the handful of countries in the Middle East that I understand has more or less genuine elections is Iran. Are Iran or Venezuela fully “democratic” countries? Obviously not — but neither is the USA. I don’t see democracy as a “wide planetary phenomenon,” but as one of many processes that can go on in complex societies — as more or less rather than either/or, often coexisting with despotism. Iran and Venezuela are currently enemies of the US for reasons other than that they are not democratic.

  6. Commenter,

    I’m not sure why some Americans (perhaps not those on this site) believe that democratic processes can happen only in countries favorable to the US

    I don’t think anyone does. It just that leaders, movements and countries truly invested in democracy automatically align themselves with the US. Liberal-democracies flock together out of shared values and mutual interest. The U.S. has never had a major conflict with another true liberal-democracy and I suspect we never will.

    Are Iran or Venezuela fully “democratic” countries?

    Iran isn’t. The best description I have read is that its election are on par with those in high school for student government. The mullah dictate who can stand for election and can override the decisions of the elected officials at will.

    Venezuela is danger because Chevez and many of his supporters do not believe in democracy and are very ideologically hostile to the idea of the true rule of the people. Instead, they seek a socialist authoritarian state in which a benighted elite will make beneficent decisions for the people. Even if that worked, its not democracy.

    Obviously not — but neither is the USA.

    Then democracy does not exist and your complaints are meaningless.

    Iran and Venezuela are currently enemies of the US for reasons other than that they are not democratic.

    Nope, see above. Liberal-democracies work out their mutual problems in an calm efficient manner. Iran, Chevez and others pick fights with the US precisely because they must create an external enemy to justify their own incompetence and to shore up their own rule. Leaders who murder their way into power pick fights with liberal-democracies. Thugs can get elected, think of Hitler as the canonical example, but the key factor is that they don’t allow themselves to be unelected.

    If Chevez steps down, especially if he hands power over to an elected opposition he can then claim to be a legitimate democratic leader. Until then, we can consider him to be just as he appears, an elected leader with despotic leanings.

  7. Are Iran or Venezuela fully “democratic” countries? Obviously not — but neither is the USA.

    The US has real self-government, however imperfect. By contrast, recent elections in Iran and Venezuela have been rigged: the rulers of those countries use the trappings of democracy to legitimize their dictatorships. If you can’t see the difference between them and us, you need to pay closer attention.

  8. Commenter,

    “Are Iran or Venezuela fully “democratic” countries? Obviously not — but neither is the USA.”

    With that “But neither is the USA” you ignore the fact that these other countries Venezuela and Iran do not have the check and balances the United States has, they both have weak and docile congresses that are dominated entirely or almost entirely by the one powerful official party, same can be said about their Judicial branch, which obeys the executive brach as does congress.

    There’s no auditing into what the power elite in these countries do with the money they get from oil, there is no change in administration every 4 or 6 years.

    So I think “but neither is the USA” doesn’t really stand a slight analysis.

  9. The Venzuelean kid who works part-time here was only mildly enthused – as he put it, Chavez de facto has those powers and there is no indication he is giving them up. Reynolds and others assume there will be a series of EU-style elections – until they get it right. And then there is Chavez’s: “I ask all of you to go home, know how to handle your victory,” Chavez said Sunday night. “You won it. I wouldn’t have wanted that Pyrrhic victory.” Democratic vote as pyrrhic victory isn’t exactly how democracies look at elections – though that attitude, too, may remind us of high school elections (or faculty senate ones). Still, if we had one way or another to hope for that election, surely winning is better than losing.

  10. Great post! It will take quite a while to turn Venezuela into a Cuba, but as long as communists run the country it will just get worse and worse. Chavez is determined.

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe thinks
    let’s PLAY communism

    pretend to fix the world
    by destroying it

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    long to taste communism

    but be a party leader
    or join the wretched masses

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    demand should exceed supply

    but don’t let prices rise
    shortages are much better

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe thinks
    communism is GREAT

    excellent way to destroy
    countries for generations

Comments are closed.