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February 01, 2008

Elections, a democracy doth not make
Posted by Patrick Barry

Democracy Promoters should take note of this report from Human Rights Watch, indicating that Dictators around the globe are disguising their abusive, authoritarian regimes in democratic garb.   The report found that the world’s traditional democracies, including the United States, and the E.U., have contributed to this trend by myopically prizing elections over democratic institutions, or human rights.

Now obviously the United States shouldn’t just drop elections from their efforts to promote democracy, but without a complimentary mission that seeks to build enduring civil bodies, and improves the human condition, we’ll continue to find ourselves in situations like this


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Well, I don't know if I support building "enduring civil bodies" if the purpose of those bodies is to prevent people we don't like from getting elected, which seems to be what you're implying with your link. If all the civic institutions were in place and a people still elected Hamas, would you be okay with that?

Hamas won because Fatah is notoriously corrupt, and its policy of negotiating with Israel has failed to gain concessions on such issues as the settlements. I don't see how any American 'mission' would make Fatah more attractive to Palestinian voters.

First, Hamas was competitive because (like David said) Fatah was very corrupt.

Second, Hamas won because of the electoral system and horrible campaign that Fatah won in terms of deciding when / where / how many candidates to run.

Third, the main problem wasn't that the American's didn't invest in democratic institutions (although our democracy assistance to the Palestinians was always limited), the bigger issue was that we prized outcomes over process. We didn't have faith in the process of the elections and democratic processes. Instead, we decided to opt to undermine the outcome by blatantly supporting the party that best represents our interests (fairly similar to Russia in the mid-90s. We turned out backs while we watched our "team" undermine the nascent democratic procedures to ensure their victory.) This was clearly a situation where we should have let the outcome play out, but make sure to pressure that the PROCESS continues. That there will be another election.

To call Nigeria a dictatorship is nonsense. There was a seriously flawed election, and most of the people elected therein have no legitimacy. This is not however to say that the democratic system in Nigeria lacks no legitimacy. It would be stupid to say that. The Nigerian judiciary has already annulled tens of fraudulent electoral victories.

The current President has not made any move to consolidate executive power, and has so far operated within the ambits of the Nigerian constitution.

A perfect democracy it, might not be, a democracy it certainly is!

"Doth" is singular and "do" is plural:

"He doth, they do, elections do."

You have to admit, the world does a pretty good job of determining when an election is free+fair and when it's not.

Who monitors the monitors?

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