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Elsewhere in Our Troubled World
In Pakistan UN envoys are sent to monitor elections. But at verge of losing, President Musharraf orders to have investigations stopped and, not long after, declares himself winner.
In Bangladesh, government decides to send out an army to stamp out increasing crime in country. Their targets: not criminals, but opposition leaders. The country’s crackdown on crime is accused of being nothing more than a form of state terrorism directed at political parties.
As for our friends, Germans, their Prime minister, Gerhard Schroeder wins an election after one of his ministers artlessly compares George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler. Is it tactless comparison that is more shocking here, or extremity of measures taken by politicians to appeal to their otherwise disenchanted populations?
All around world, voter turnouts are decreasing, as is trust in government—except of course in Iraq, where Saddam and his lovable thugs are able to tactically coerce people to vote by stamping their blood on ballots. But Iraq’s kingdom-come aside, recent trends bring about great speculation about ‘Third Wave’ and how prepared countries are for democracy.
In that respect it seems as if West is willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. The more countries convert to democracy, more its proponents can boast of its promise, and easier it is to access and do business with these countries. Few will admit that majority of these ‘Third-Wavers’; these newly democratized nations are anything but democratic.
Closer to Home
It seems as if world of politics is completely devoid of trust if even world’s most successful democracy, good old United States, is having its share of troubles.
In shadow of United State's chaotic presidential elections of 2000, Russia's Communist party made a sarcastic offer to send election monitors to Palm Beach to help with Florida’s troubled mid-term elections. The same joke was voiced by Albanians and by none other than Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. However, what was once a joke has now become a reality. America has accepted offer.
The first delegation of poll monitors ever assigned to analyze an American election arrives in United States and among its staff are Russian and Albanian representatives.
Their goal is to evaluate whether or not Florida’s mid-term elections meet international democratic standards.
This same team of ‘democracy-police’ have previously monitored French elections, and now United States, after which they will pay Turkey a little disciplinary visit.
Some would say this event is justice for all countries that have been lectured by Washington in past about their electoral processes.
Others would say maybe we could all learn a thing or two from Mugabe and Saddam’s perfectly silenced masses.
No corner of earth is without a democracy in distress.
Those of us who are lead to believe that world is rapidly reverting to democracy have been deceived. Most of these new democracies are haunted with previous histories of communism or civil war and marred by poverty and social inequality. Under these conditions, transition to democracy is quite impossible. Inasmuch as there are institutions promoting democracy all over world, there are few that promote economic and social stability that makes democracy possible.
Why are they telling us that stage has been set for democracy when all around world less people are inclined to vote and more people are distrustful of their leaders? This year certainly speaks for itself. Across globe, elections have proven to be nothing more than theatrical—Saddam’s one hundred percent vote; Serbia’s no-shows; Mugabe’s self-imposed landslide victory.
As for third wave—maybe, just maybe somewhere beneath ocean of falsities, real wave is brewing.
Loloa Ibrahim : BA in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. Member of the American Political Science Association and The International Women’s Writers Guild. Recognized for several academic honors. Currently works for the Department of Human Services in VA. Teaches English and adult literacy at the Center for Multicultural Human Services.