Two of the world’s most-watched tyrants-in-the-making put their popularity to the test at the ballot box this week.
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has steadily been amassing more and more power over the last few years, but such power is useless unless he retains a firm hold on the presidency. So he tried to get the constitution changed to let him rule for life, among other things. The proposal was narrowly rejected, 50% to 49. A crushing setback to a man who has, until now, largely been invincible.
Vladimir Putin had better luck in Russia. A while back he invented some new political party, with himself as head. And now the pro-Putin Party has won 315 of the 450 seats in the Russian Duma, making Putin a shoe-in to be the next Prime Minister once he stops being president. The high vote totals were a bit suspicious in some states. I find the fact that his party won 99% of the vote in Chechnya to be a bit questionable, for example.