Is this the end of Hugo Chavez? asks the National Interest, and dozens of other periodicals. On behalf of the Venezuelan people, who have long suffered under this tyrant, I say, "I hope so!"
But as the author of a book about autocracy, bad governance, and would-be-dictators, I say, "I hope not." Because Chavez has been a wealth of material, and has innovated in ways that bring new richness to the discipline of autocracy. Khadaffi was of little use, since he went out and got himself killed before the book went to press. And Assad was of minimal value because he's been doing the same damn thing since a year ago - bashing.
The Venezuelan people go to the polls tonight. Let's see if Chavez has been paying attention to Chapter 12 of the Dictator's Handbook: "Elections"
The New York Times has written a piece about the fear leading up to Venezuela's elections. Turns out, there may be an election, but it's not going to work the way it does in, say, Norway or Sweden. Let's see: (scroll down a bit for the surprise)
Dole out government largesse with abandon; spend lavishly on would-be voters in ways your opponent can't.
|4.4 "A chicken in the pots you choose (p 65)|
|Stuff the government with workers, even at low wages. These people will vote for you because if you go, their jobs disappear.||Sec 3.2.1 "Size and relations with your government (p45)|
|Sow the seeds of fear: the government will know who voted against it, and take revenge accordingly.||Sec. 12.4.7 "Managing the voters" (p251)|
|Use the entire weight of the state to promote your campaign; retain influence over the courts and electoral council.||Sec. 12.4.1 "Strawman: the electoral commission (p245) and 3.2.5. "Courts and Judiciary" (p 52)|
|Stage your administration as a popular "revolution" that must be defended at all costs, and whose failures must be forgiven and/or overlooked.||Sec. 4.6 "Outright Populism" (p 75)|
Not bad, Hugo. You can bet these two authors are going to vote for Chavez. He's too good a source of material for the next edition of the Dictator's Handbook and it's clear he's not only got a copy, but has contributed to it as well.
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