Democracy damaged

Both kinds of democracy have recently been badly damaged. Democracy, the one with the capital “D” includes human rights, rule of law, freedom of expression, good governance, and the right of every citizen to have a say in the way that the country is governed. The other democracy, the one with a small “d” is about the right of every citizen to have a say in the way the country is run – often summarised as “one man one vote”.

The crime scene is Egypt. The crime – the presidential election.

The people of Egypt fought for, and some died for Democracy. The system of democracy that the International Community proposed has produced a result that will disappoint almost everyone.

Let’s analyse the result so far. The first round did not produce an outright victor, one that had more than 50% of the votes cast. The two men who prevailed, and will face each other in the run-off scheduled to take place on the 16th and 17th June are polar opposites. Muhammad Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, promises to impose Islamic sharia law and radically to reform government. His rival, Ahmed Shafiq, served as Mr Mubarak’s trusted last prime minister, stresses a swift end to what he calls “revolutionary chaos”. Morsi canvassed 25% of the vote, and Shafiq 24%. The turnout was 40%. That means that at best, the eventual winner will have 10% support of the eligible voters.

The 40% turnout, in a country where there is such a vested interest suggests either voter fatigue or that the choices available are not appealing. With the two candidates on opposite ends of the political spectrum, the next round is more likely to indicate a vote against one candidate rather than a vote for the other, leaving the ultimate winner with an unconvincing mandate.

The Economist reports that Mr Mubarak’s powerful intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, ominously suggested before the election that in the event of a Brotherhood victory the army would simply take over. Just as ominously, disgruntled revolutionaries rumble that if Mr Shafiq were to win, they would again take to the streets.

Democracy in Egypt will be badly wounded, perhaps mortally.

The system of run-off elections provides a solution to deal with the lack of an outright winner in homogenous stable societies, not those in the midst of upheaval.

The benefits of Democracy have been tainted by the failings of an unsuitable system of democracy.

More at:
Egypt’s election Two reasons not to be cheerful

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