Democracy or convenience? [Archives:2005/905/Viewpoint]

December 22 2005

Currently, and for the coming few months, the world will be undergoing a turmoil of elections at various political levels. The Middle East has had its fair share of elections in Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and soon enough, Yemen. While the whole world observes election processes in this region, supreme powers continue providing feedback on the results of these processes. So far, they have praised Egyptian and Iraqi elections and condemned those in Iran and Palestine. The reason was that the elections in Iran and Palestine apparently have not been an example of true democracy, which brings us to the meaning of this over-chewed term. What is democracy in the first place? A definition taken from the wikipedia is, “The term democracy indicates a form of government where all the state's decisions are exercised directly or indirectly by a majority of its citizenry through a fair elective process.” Other definitions lead to nearly the same meaning and have to do in general with fairness and people's participation.

In other words, if the results of the electoral process yield an outcome approved by the people, then it can be deemed democratic. Considering this, what happens if election results, although fair and transparent, lead to a result acceptable to local people but not to the international community? That is to say, what happens if people want something for their own country that the world's supreme powers are not happy with? An example of this is Palestine, where Hamas won the majority of seats in the municipal council.

News reports say the European Union (EU) is threatening not to support the Palestinian Authority if the situation remains as is and results continue in this direction. The Associated Press reported that the EU foreign policy chief warned Sunday that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians if the militant Hamas group wins next month's Palestinian elections and fails to renounce violence. Since Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization, the Palestinian democracy is deemed flawed regardless of what the Palestinian people want.

Therefore, it seems the democracy is not just about fair elections; it is more about the most convenient results for the world. It also indicates a sharp turn in the perception of independence and self-governing in any country. The consequences of the political process in any state are not limited to that state as such, but extend to the whole world and must fall in line with the big picture or rather the global plan. Obviously, such a global plan was designed by only few members of the global community. This is why many analysts in developing countries, especially Muslim ones, keep complaining about the double standards of the world's decision makers. Not being involved in the ultimate global plan hinders their ability to perceive, with vision, what is going on around the world and how the pieces fit together, or at least, are meant to do so.

The elections in Palestine may be fairer than those taking place elsewhere around the Middle East, but that is not enough. The outcome of such elections must be convenient for the international world and fit in the bigger picture. Only then will the electoral process be accepted as a demonstration of true democracy.