GLOBAL VIEW Updated October 8, 2012, By BRET STEPHENS
Hugo Chávez won his fourth election as president of Venezuela on Sunday. The official margin of victory was 55%-44%, which sounds plausible, even if it would be nice to think his real total was more like 47%.
How did Mr. Chávez become his country’s FDR? In the Weekend Journal, reporters David Luhnow and Ezequiel Minaya described what they called “the unusual benefits of incumbency” in Caracas. Among them: Laws that allow Mr. Chávez to commandeer the airwaves of every TV station at any hour—but limit the opposition to three minutes of advertising a day. The use of state buildings for partisan purposes. No debates. No independent electoral observers. Threats that public workers could lose their jobs if they voted against the incumbent.
And then this: “In the past decade, high oil prices have given [Mr. Chávez's] government hundreds of billions in extra revenue, much of which he has spent on social programs that are wildly popular.”