With its claims to make democracy more direct and to be especially mindful of the poor, left-wing populism has crafted an attractive message. It has spread from Venezuela to several other countries and has stimulated interest elsewhere, especially Argentina. The temptations that it spawns make Chávez-style populism a particular threat to democracy.
This threat also seems to have clear limits, however. Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, and now Colombia boast stable democracies. Steady institutions, pluralist party systems, and respectable government performance leave less room for populists. The downsides of Bolivarian populism, which include raging inflation, corruption, and violent crime, are well known and act as a deterrent. Left-wing populism and soft authoritarianism are unlikely to infect those countries.