Real Elections/Real Democracy

Now you can see the problem with the administration calling every country or entity that holds a vote a “democracy,” and anything that results from balloting “democratic.”

Now you can see the problem with the administration calling every country or entity that holds a vote a “democracy,” and anything that results from balloting “democratic.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that Abu Mazen has gone to Egypt to discuss “postponing” the scheduled January Palestinian Authority (PA) elections because he believes a) Fatah is internally too fractured and b) Hamas will win. There is enormous irony in a semi-reformed terrorist meeting with a dictator-for-life to air his fears that un-semi-reformed terrorists will depose him and carry out the terrorist agenda more efficiently.

Egypt’s autumn parliamentary election was marginally more open than previous referenda. But since Mubarak likes to threaten the U.S. that the only alternative to his continued rule would be Islamic extremists of the worst sort – apres moi, le deluge – the election involved a tacit agreement between Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood to keep out truly democratic parties. The Islamists would gain enough seats by running as non-party candidates to scare the U.S. with the tide of the rising Brotherhood, but Mubarak would save the day with his victory. The deal, however, fell apart when the Brotherhood appeared to be making gains beyond Mubarak’s expectations, and he called out the army to beat and harass voters and candidates.

In the Palestinian case, it is unclear why the U.S. ever accepted Abu Mazen as a legitimate interlocutor, since Mr. Bush called for the Palestinians to elect “new leadership untainted by terror,” and Abu Mazen is anything BUT untainted. Worse is how the U.S. accepted Hamas, a true, open avowed terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of an American ally and member of the UN as a legitimate contestant in elections. It is foolish and untrue to say the U.S. shouldn’t interfere – we have involved ourselves in everything about the PA from politics to negotiations with Israel to finances. Given the candidates and their platforms, the U.S. had the option of not certifying the election as meeting U.S. standards and withholding aid and recognition in advance. [We recall two JINSA Advisory Board members observing the Uzbek elections of 2000 as private citizens because the State Department decided a priori that the elections wouldn’t be “free and fair,” and refusing its imprimatur for the observers.]

Currently, we’re rooting for Abu Mazen and Mubarak to come to an agreement on postponing the sham vote in the territories in January. The U.S. will be spared the immediate consequences of its indiscriminate approbation of non-democratic elections and may use the time to reflect on better models. Such as Iraq.

In Iraq, it has become clear that most of the voters chose the parties of people most like themselves to represent their interests in Baghdad – Shi’ites voted Shi’ite, Sunnis voted Sunni, etc. The fact that non-religion/ethnicity based parties fared less well has been called a failure of “democracy.” But all the parties are committed to the political settlement of differences – a HUGE step toward consensual government which may, in time with proper nurturing, lead to real democracy.

Less can be said of the others.