Blame the State for Sham Arab Democracy

(Daily Star-Lebanon) Rami G. Khouri - The recent string of "elections" across the Arab world in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq raises profound questions about that world's apparent difficulty in adopting institutions and practices of liberal pluralistic democracies. The Egyptian, Syrian and Algerian cases repeat the modern Arab tradition of family-run security states and dictatorships that put on a show of voting to secure approval ratings of 87 or 93 or 97%, complete with adoring crowds of supporters of the "Great Leader." Nowhere in the normal world do elections result in victories of such magnitude as routinely occur in Arab "elections." Yet we have had glimpses of democratic transitions that include more credible elements, such as the Tunisian elections in recent years, or the 2012 Egyptian presidential election that saw one candidate win by just a few percentage points. We also see credible elections taking place all over the region in professional associations or student groups. So the idea that Arabs cannot behave democratically is nonsense.

2014-06-13 00:00:00

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