2 November 2009
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, it will be exactly 1 year since Democracy celebrated one of its more promising victories, when the United States elected as its President a black man who campaigned on positive change. This year, so it seems, democracy hardly has reason to party at all (if not mourn over lost opportunities). Altough, much of it may prove to be in the eye of the beholder, changing perspective over time, with history soldiering on.
In June, for the first time since -well, ever- democracy started openly shaking its tail in Iran. Though elections are held regularly there, the Islamist powers that be always make sure nothing too distressing ever results from them. Like you have the (infamous) communist democratic model -offering the choice between one candidate- there is also the Islamist democratic model -offer the choice between several candidates who are exactly the same.
But this year, something odd happened, when a previously normal (that is: islamist, highly conservative, defender of the Great Revolution and all that) kind of candidate, gained momentum as the preferred candidate of many of the young -slightly more modern- Iranians, because rumor had it that Mr.Mousavi was not wholeheartedly against women participating in public life, seemed to have a less destructive eye on the development of secular education and did not like adulterous women being stoned to death. Suddenly, Mr.Mousavi was crowned -both inside and outside the country- as the Obama of the Middle East, a hero of change.
When incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still won the election, widespread fraud was suspected and uncovered, whereupon the Islamic Republic of Iran showed its true face, clubbed some of the more vigorous protesters to death and imprisoned dozens of others. 0-1 for Democracy.
Another novice to freedom of choice, Afghanistan, also held its elections in the Summer of 2009. Or held, 'started' might be a more suitable description, since the process took until today to fully unfold, and then only because the last remaining opponent withdrew from the race.
What happened? Well, a couple of weeks after the first round, Hamid Karzai was elected winner of the whole thing, because he had so many votes a second round wasn't even necessary. Turned out though that the elections had been riddled with fraud ( a little disappointing after you've defied Taliban suicide attacks and thumbcutting reprisals to cast your vote in the first place) and a second round was necessary after all.
But today, opponent Abdullah Abdullah withdrew, stating that not enough guarantees had been made to prevent the same widespread fraud in the second round. 0-2 for Democracy.
And last but so not least, the E.U. Presidency. In less than two weeks -barring extremely anti-climactic events- the European Union will chose its first permanent chairman of the European Counsel, an office popularly known as that of 'European President.' Candidates range from former U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair to incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende.
And to make it absolutely, 100 percent certain no voter fraud is even possible with the election of the European President, no election will be held at all. That's right, the Lisbon Treaty on which the European Presidency is based, in its effort to make the EU less complicated and more democratic, has -in its infinite wisdom- provided for the creation of a European Leader who will have ZERO electoral mandate. Instead, the 27 leaders of the European Union will make the choice for the people.
I'd say that's 0-3 for Democracy.