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Those phoney elections in the Middle East

A point well made by Juan Cole on his blog, Informed Comment - the lack of response to the recent phoney elections in many of the Middle East countries.

"The world has been treated to a whole series of “elections” in the Middle East recently. Iraq had parliamentary elections, Libya’s parliament voted for a new prime minister, and Egypt and Syria had presidential elections. This summer, Turkey will have elections.

It would be nice if all these elections signaled a turn in the region to democracy. They don’t."


*****

"So elections in the Middle East are a dead end in and of themselves. They function as authoritarian plebiscites, adding to the power of the president and fobbing off the public with promises that gradually there will be a turn to real democracy. In 2011 the public got tired of waiting for the real thing. Elites have responded with counter-revolutions. Those may not succeed, either.

I think the young people all see the phoney elections for what they are. Some are relatively upright, as with Iraq or Turkey, but are still skewed. In Turkey, the formula used for parliamentary victory is detached from reality and does not resemble the popular vote. In Iraq, the ballots probably weren’t tampered with, but the system produces a perpetual hung parliament. In Syria and Egypt elections were about a rhetoric of popularity for dictators. The Millennial youth tried to tell their elders in 2011 that they no longer accepted the phoney elections, and did not see them as producing legitimate governments. You could say that the governments don’t care. But then why this elaborate sham? It is because the governments do care, and want to be perceived as legitimately elected. Their problem is that is is fairly obvious that mostly they are not; or if they are, as in Baghdad, there was still substantial shenanigans"

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