Speaking of places where democracy has withered, Venezuela held municipal elections this weekend, in which the ruling PSUV ran the table — in part because the beleaguered opposition boycotted the vote. Now, President Maduro says, they’ll be barred from fielding candidates in next year’s presidential election.
Say what you will about Maduro, but he has confounded his doubters, holding on to power even as his government goes broke, inflation hits triple digits, and his people suffer hideous crises of violence and malnutrition. How do guys like this hang on for so long? The two keys for Maduro — as for a long list of soft and not so soft authoritarians — are the continued loyalty of the military and the chronic fragmentation of the opposition. And the recent rise in oil prices, which account for 95% of Venezuelan exports — can only help Maduro. A little more cash to throw around will reinvigorate the loyalty of senior officers whose commitment to 21st Century Socialism has at least as much to do with financial interest as with revolutionary fervor. This story can go on for quite a bit longer yet.