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.
His party won 99% of the vote in Chechnya to be a bit questionable, for example.
There’s bit a lot of talk about shirtless world leaders in the news lately.
Vladimir Putin caused headlines last week when he staged a number of bare-chested photo-ops in the Siberian countryside, looking all majestic and rugged. Evidently this delighted a large number of women and gays as the Russian president is fairly buff… at least by 54-year-old politician standards.
Then we have Nicholas Sarkozy, the new president of France. While on vacation in the US he was photographed shirtless as well, majestically paddling his canoe. Sarkozy, alas, is not quite so toned, which caused some distress to the editor of Paris Life magazine, a close friend of the president. The photo was run through Photoshop, and some of Sarky’s flab was edited out.
This is the tragedy of a media culture that promotes unrealistic body images for world leaders.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President/Tsar/Dear Leader was named TIME magazine’s “man of the year” of 2007 this week, in a recognition of Russia’s re-rise to global powerdom under his rule.
TIME magazine always says that being named person of the year is not an honor, but almost everyone always ignores this, and assumes that it is.
Painter congratulates TIME for finally, after years of cop-out choices, to actually name a controversial figure as POTY, and return the feature to its original tradition of acknowledging important world leaders, rather than trite American celebrities.