democracy - The Trawler.org
DYER: “Libyan election shows democracy in the Arab world is still making progress,” (Georgia Straight Weekly)312 days ago by Graeme Douglas
In his latest column, Gwynne Dyer looks at the Arab Spring and the process of democratization in the Arab world. He argues that, despite the concerns of many Western commentators, the success of Islamic parties in recent elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya does not mark the end of democracy in the region. These were largely free and fair elections in which the Islamic parties respected the democratic process. That the people of these countries are choosing Islamic governments is a product of their specific political climate, rather than undemocratic. He believes that this is ultimately a good thing, that whatever parties their citizens vote for, what matters is the exercise of the democratic system.
This is a refreshing perspective. There is a tendency in Western discussions on Islam and politics to see things to fear. But this fear is largely baseless, as the vast majority of people in Canada and other Western countries know very little about Islam, Sharia, or the political climates of Muslim countries. Muslim political parties play important roles in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, and these countries do not sponsor terrorism or threaten us. If Tunisia, Egypt or Libya will be different, it will be for reasons other than the Islamic character of their political parties.
As Dyer suggests, the West needs to step back and allow the people in these Arab countries to exercise their democratic freedoms, whether they meet Western ideals or not.
In his latest column, Andrew Coyne looks at the Conservative government’s obstruction of the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s (PBO) efforts to monitor government spending. Ironically, he notes, the PBO and his office are the creation of the Conservatives, who campaigned in 2006 on creating an independent office to oversee the government’s finances and promote honesty in its accounting. Coyne believes that the creation of such a position was a very good idea that could help keep the state accountable and he does not approve of the Conservative’s treatment of the PBO.
Coyne has regularly noted his dislike for the Harper government’s heavy-handed governing style, and this article continues these criticisms. While right-leaning himself, Coyne cannot countenance what he sees as attacks on the institutions of Canadian democracy. The issue that seems to bother him most is the hypocrisy of the Conservative government, which has taken the “games” of the Liberal party to new levels of secrecy and unaccountability, marking a contradiction of action over stated principles. “The conflict here is not so much between Conservatives and their opponents,” Coyne concludes. “It is between Conservatives and their very souls.”
Jimena Val Gora
Roberto Gargarella, at Clarín, gives his opinion
in this article about the current debate on a potential reform of the National Constitution. In his view, if something should be changed is how the power is organized. He believes a stronger democratization is necessary.
The president of the Supreme Court, Ricardo Lorenzetti, has recently declared that a reform of the Constitution is not necessary since the part that concerns rights is sufficiently recognized. Gargarella only partly agrees; he concurs with Mr. Lorenzetti in the fact that the Constitution is indeed really generous in terms of rights and that should not be changed, but Gargarella thinks that the other part of the Constitution, the one that deals with the organization of power and the division of the three powers, needs to be revised.
The “engine room” of the Constitution has not been touched, except for reinforcing the Presidential power and enabling the reelection. Gargarella find this a bit paradoxical. While the last reforms have added and reinforced more rights, they have at the same time locked the access to a better and more efficient way of handling power. The result is democracy in terms of right, authoritarianism in terms of organization of power. The worst of this situation, he argues, is that those in charge of implementing and guarding the citizens’ rights are the same ones who hold a concentrated power and tend to see popular power as a threat.
L. Offeddu writes for Il Corriere della Sera about the case of Tymoshenko that is creating tension just a few weeks before the European football Championship of 2012.
Yulia Tymoshenko was the Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2005 and from 2007 to 2010, and the protagonist of the Orange Revolution that showed a lot of claims for more democracy in the country. She was the Prime Minister when the organization of the European Football Championship was awarded by Ukraine (and Poland). However, today we find a country which is far from the period of the Orange Revolution: the hopes that were generated were not realized. The actual President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, who defeated Tymoshenko during the elections of 2010, has to deal with a lot of problems during these days. Cases of corruption and abuse of office opened against Tymoshenko in 2010 and she was subsequently arrested; photos which show the suffering and bruises she acquired from prison are now circulating.
Offeddu stresses that many European leaders have expressed their concern of the situation. Governments of Austria and Belgium have decided to boycott Euro 2012. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated she will take a decision at the last moment, and other representatives have shown concern.
Obviously we know that it ia not the first time that sports and politics have mixed. Yanukovych denounces “the climate of the Cold War” but there is no need to go back that far: still today many people wonder about the before and the after of Beijing 2008. A lot of promises on human rights have remained just promises.
Jimena Val Gora
Ezequiel Nino, at Clarín, denounces that the democratic institutions in Argentina are seriously damaged. The crossed accusations in the “Ciccone case” between high ranked officers of the three powers are a clear evidence of this.
One of the problems lies in the fact that it has been more than a decade since the last measures to promote transparency and fight corruption were promulgated. Furthermore, in this last decade control organisms have been weakened. The “Ciccone case” is a good example of how the system is working: the Vicepresident was able to remove a judge, after the judge had ordered a raid in one of his properties. The reason to remove the judge was that he was in touch with the lawyer of the other accused in the cause: the vice-president’s partner.
Nino concludes that we need a democracy that works. This means a clear division of powers and mechanisms of control between the three powers. A working democracy enables respect for the rights and protects civil society from the abuse of power, and this is not what is happening with the current situation of democracy in the country.
Jimena Val Gora
Martín Lousteau, at La Nación, attempts in this article to track down when the collective idea of a nation was lost. He starts from the 1960′s, a decade where the country recovered some terrain in face of the most industrialized nations.
During the 1960′s Argentina was leading the region. Thanks to the social conquests of previous governments the country enjoyed an egalitarian and modern society, with prestigious education and health systems. There was indeed a collective belief of a nation. Lousteau claims that this collective idea of a nation began to dismantle in the 1870s, with the appearance of armed groups, state terrorism and violence everywhere. This led to an individualist conception of social life, anchored in fear and distrust. This selfish conception of the social life lasted until the 2001 crisis.
After 2003 the country experienced indeed a successful economic recovery –in fact the most successful period in history after 1903-1910 and 1918-1925. Lousteau points out that situation also improved dramatically inside the homes –more income, better houses, vacations, etc. However, Lousteau claims that there has not been an improvement in terms of social interaction: “Our social interaction is rough, the ability of coexistence is poor, dialogue and tolerance are minimum, politics stay degraded, public spaces have not been recovered for their proper use because of the constant menace of insecurity, health and education are not improving, and the physical infrastructure –social and productive –is still in deficit”.
Here lies the great challenge of our time: abandon individualism and go back to a collective search for a common future. Reconstruction, claims Lousteau, will not come from a fearful or submissive state; but neither will it from an inefficient, arrogant, arbitrary, cyclothymic and corrupt one. Lousteau does not hide his lack of sympathy for the present government. He concludes that even though there have been a lot of improvements during the last decade, they are not enough. Argentinean people still need to recover the idea of a shared future.
Jimena Val Gora
Political scientist Liliana De Riz, at Clarín, analyzes the country’s check and balances system. Her diagnosis is that it suffers from a severe ill-functioning, which is translated into large human and material losses.