Friday, June 06, 2014

Look Who's Voting, Now

Syria's Assad announced that he won reelection. Apparently, in the not-ready-for-democracy Arab world, elections are a sign of legitimacy.

I hope nobody stayed up late waiting to see if late returns from Aleppo would swing the election in Syria:

Syria's parliament speaker, Jihad Laham, announced the final results from Tuesday's election, saying Assad garnered 10,319,723 votes, or 88.7 percent. Assad's two challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. The Supreme Constitutional Court put turnout at 73.42 percent.

Sure, the election was a farce.

But the point is, Assad bothered to engineer the farce. For all those who say that the Arab world is not ready for democracy, they sure do largely (outside of Gulf monarchies) operate as if elections are the way to legitimize governments.

So even though they need to learn about the importance of rule of law (and we need reminders, too, of late) in promoting real democracy beyond the high profile voting aspect of democracy, the fact that Arab governments keep holding elections should at least tell us that they are valued and respected.

When Arab Moslem states stop holding even rigged elections and start holding old-style mass meetings of tribal elders to validate (with rigging, of course) the choice of who sits in the palace, I'll believe that democracy promotion in the Middle East is mistaken.