Saturday Morning Coffee

International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.

Choosing a Democracy

I’ve never been in Canada during an election, but for the last one I wanted to be sure that I was a part of it. So I stopped by the embassy, picked up a ballot and made sure that it was delivered on time. It felt good to be a part of the process. My electing party didn’t win, but it was satisfying nonetheless and it’s that sentiment that I think Canadians often forget or take for granted. It’s the best indicator we have of good governance and provides a little sneak peak into what’s to come. So when I read of the tension surrounding previous and upcoming elections, I’m thankful that the tension surrounding Canada’s last election was hushed to a disgruntled murmur post-election that complained of wasted money and time after the election did absolutely nothing in changing the makeup of our democracy.

Thailand today is declaring a state of emergency in Bangkok after protester’s stormed the parliament, angry of a corrupt government who obtained power illegally. “The Red Shirt movement — known formally as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship — contends Mr. Abhisit came to power illegitimately in the years after ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed in a 2006 coup on corruption allegations. The group is made up largely of Thaksin supporters and pro-democracy activists who opposed the putsch.”

Meanwhile, an election is especially significant and perhaps more so in Sudan where ethnic differences and memories of Darfur haunt the election campaign. The National Electoral Commission seems assured that the election will be held on time and as fair as possible. The ruling parties, though, disagree. The major rival to Sudanese President Bashir’s ruling (yep – that’s the one that was indited for crimes against humanity by the Hague) has pulled out of the race because “the poll in Darfur is being rigged in favour of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). Supporters of other parties, he says, are being disenfranchised through difficulties in registering and having to walk long distances to reach a polling booth.” Yasser Arman, of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), goes on to “[accuse] the NCP of using the state’s resources in its campaign, of exploiting the state of emergency in Darfur to give the NCP and Mr Bashir an unfair electoral advantage. Mr Arman claims that his party and others contesting the elections are not allowed to venture out of the three major cities of Darfur, Neale, Geneina and al-Fasher.” If this is the case, perhaps it is better that he pull out of the elections – no sense in running them if they’re doomed to be fraudulent anyways – but if they don’t happen now, will they ever?

On Thursday, legislative elections in Sri Lanka could not only reinforce his coalition party, but also welcome the rest of his family in to the political sphere, which includes his 23-yr old son and 3 brothers. I’m not sure how I feel about this – it doesn’t sound right and highly doubtful that all members of The Rajapaksas would merit a spot in government. As the BBC wonders, I’d also like to know how the varying communities are represented and if the first family is legitimate.

I could  go on and on and on; elections in Afghanistan were suspected to have been ridden with holes, the Iraqi elections have given way to coalition building, Egyptian courts have just released opposition party members on bail. So many issues surrounding the conduct and results of elections and I’m not sure if this is what the founding fathers of democratic theory had in mind? It was all so cut and dry back then, wasn’t it? Didn’t exactly give us a guidebook to instruct us how to put dictator here and put corruption and violence there. Britain’s upcoming election, hopefully, will set a standard and show ’em how it’s done! Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board of leadership and hope that whatever we come up with will have a more lasting affect on the state of our democracies.

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