Sunday, August 19, 2007

Jordan votes

Free elections are dangerous things. The concept was designed to be dangerous to the powerful who can be, in theory, swept out of power by the ill served electorate. What happens however when the electorate feels ill served by good government? What happens when the electorate wants to be ruled by mad mullahs with ancient books? What happens when democracy produces instability?

The King of Jordan issued a decree today, formally dissolving Parliament; an act which starts the sequence of events leading to an election. The Jordanian Parliament officially ended its four year term in April. While Americans like to believe that where there are free elections, there is freedom, history suggests otherwise and this election will contain a struggle of Palestinian Islamists to increase their power. People free to vote, sometimes vote not to be free and that doesn't merely obtain to Muslims.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the main opposition party and the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood has alleged that in the 2003 election, there was vote rigging and other irregularities and indeed Jordan's conservatives have been urging Abdullah II to delay elections as popular frustrations may allow the IAF to increase their parliamentary representation. There is much public impatience with delays in promised reforms in this country where the King has immense power and particularly in urban areas with concentrations of Palestinians. Can anyone be assured however that increased popular participation in that government would not result in yet another militant theocracy?

Of course George Bush doesn't have the constitutional power to simply ignore or overturn or delay elections, his recent declarations indicate we are moving closer to a system where the judiciary and legislature serve at his pleasure, even while Jordan is risking a move in the other direction. I don't know if either country is moving toward secularism, but I am sure than nothing George Bush's government has done has given peace a chance.

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