Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It Depends on Whose Democracy

There were recently elections in Palestine which brought Hamas into power. Those elections were, by anyone's judgement, an expression of democracy in action:
By Luckyboy Pitswane

Together with the rest of the world, we in Palestine followed the process leading to the 25th of January – the second Palestinian Legislative Council elections – with the greatest interest. This arose from a deep concern we have sustained for many decades to see the immensely talented people of Palestine living in conditions of peace.

Even though they are living under occupation, more than 1,000,000 Palestinians exercised their democratic rights by participating in the second elections for the PLC, which took place 10 years after the first ones...
Once again, in Jerusalem, Israel was exposed. More than 125,000 Palestinians are eligible to vote in East Jerusalem, only 6,300 were allowed to vote in post offices in Jerusalem. The rest were forced to go to the nearest polling stations outside of Jerusalem. One cannot confirm if these elections were free and fair, since no Central Elections Commission staff were allowed to work in Israeli post offices. The elections were conducted by Israeli post office staff and no counting was allowed inside the post office.
And what does Israel do in response to democracy?
An end to fuel supplies for the West Bank and Gaza could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work — a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions.
It does no good to pretend that we are supporting "freedom and democracy" in Iraq if we allow Israel to squash it like a cockroach in Palestine. Did I mention that Israel has nuclear weapons? And would use them if they were "threatened."

And then there is Iran:
The Iranian presidential election of 2005, the ninth presidential election in Iranian history, took place in two rounds, first on June 17, 2005, and then as a run-off on June 24. It led to the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline mayor of Tehran, with 19.48% of the votes in the first round and 61.69% in the second. Ahmadinejad is believed to have won the second round because of his populist views, especially those regarding the poor people and their economic status. The election saw a turnout of almost 60% of eligible voters, seen as a strike back by Iran at the United States' initial allegations that many in Iran would be restricted from voting. (emphasis added)

But, we are so much better. Or are we?
US Presidential Election Turnout
Year: 2004
Voting age population: 221,256,931
Registered Voters: 174,800,000
Voter Turnout: 122,294,978
% of Eligible Population: 55.3%
(emphasis added)

How about them pickles, Dr. Rice?

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