8.9.05

GOTV-Egypt (Part II)

An excerpt from this report (free registration may be required) on the Egyptian mulit-party presidential elections I talked about a couple of posts below caught my eye:

[I]n several districts around the city people who promised to vote for the president were given raffle tickets offering prizes that included an apartment, a pilgrimage to Mecca, a bedroom furniture set, televisions, refrigerators and stoves.

Let's hope that doesn't give Paul Martin any ideas.

But all joking (?) aside, I repeat what I said before: these elections, while miles away from "free and fair", represent a step forward. A too-small, insufficient step, but a step forward nonetheless.

The problem is, however, that there are a number of ways by which this "forward step" could become a hinderance, not a help, to democratic reform:

1. Mubarak could use the results as an excuse to say, in effect, "See? I told you everyone loved me ... so what's the point of spending all that money on future elections anway?"

2. People who are for all intents and purposes holding in their anger at the current regime could decide that this vote was such a farce that there is no point in following the democratic method ... and out come the clubs, guns, and bombs.

3. A concern that is similar to point #2: radical groups in Egypt and elsewhere use the faults in this election - and they are serious faults, don't get me wrong - as an excuse to not only beat up the Mubarak regime, but the USA (and the rest of the "western world") as well, given that the US pressured Mubarak into holding these elections in the first place.

On balance, while these and other problems are serious and need to be taken into account, the fact remains that Egyptians have, for the first time in a long time (ever?) have been able to exercie their franchise in a multi-party election. As I have said before, while this isn't sufficient, it is essential.

And who knows? The Egyptian people - and the people of other states in the area - may find that they like this multi-party business. Mubarak may find that it's harder than he thought to put that particular sort of toothpaste back into the tube.

More later.

1 Comments:

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