In trying to explain the current situation in Venezuela, the Washington Post's Matt O'Brien, in a post at the paper's Wonkblog, also inadvertently identified two reasons why authoritarian socialist tyrants like Huge Chavez and Nicolas Maduro are able to achieve and retain power.
The formula is simple: When you first gain power, garner international and media goodwill by giving stuff away, like housing and gasoline. That wlll earn you props from the likes of O'Brien and liberals everywhere who have come to believe that doing so "is a good idea in general." Meanwhile, you can work in the background to overturn whatever checks and balances your country's political system might have. If the populace finally figures out what you're really up to and rises up in opposition, they can't stop you — even if your party gets blown out in elections and takes over what has become, thanks to you, an impotent legislature.