Thursday, January 26, 2006

Democracy 101

Just when you think you have things figured out here, they turn topsy-turvy on you.

In a matter of a few weeks, Sharon becomes comatose; the Palestinian streets go from chaos hinging on anarchy to an unsettling calm and then the Islamic group Hamas, contesting elections for the first time and thought to be lagging behind Fatah by every measure, sweeps the first parliamentary elections in 10 years, shattering the ruling party's long grip on Palestinian politics.

Welcome to Gaza.

The latest events can only be described as a political earthquake, both locally and regionally. Not only are these the first truly democratic and hotly contested elections in the Arab Middle East, but also the first time an Islamic party has come to power through the system and the popular will of the people.

To say we are entering a new stage is an understatement. Everyone knew Hamas would do well in these elections and that they would constitute a significant challenge to the ruling party. But this well?

As one commentator on my Guardian blog put it, "Checkmate! Isn't democracy a wonderful thing?"

Check out my final post in the Guardian for more.

4 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

I've read Hamas has been successful in parts of Gaza with cleaning streets, fixing traffic lights, establishing schools and medical centers. I also read the other party was mostly corrupt wanna be politicans. Small wonder they have won a popular vote. I hope they can find a way to live in peace with Isreal; for the well being of everyone in your part of the world.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Shaggydabbydo said...

Congratulations on a spectacularly successful election. 77% turnout under the circumstances says to me that Palestinians want to be part of a solution to their problems. It sends a message that they care, that they want to be part of the (political) solution, and that those who have been in charge before are part of the problem everyday Palestinians face.

Will it all work out for the good?

I think so. While my perspective is from far away, and I may be talking tripe, I see this victory for Hamas as a HUGE step towards peace.

Hamas, long known in the West as a terrorist organization, and for good reason imv, has, afaik, strong social 'arms' and aims.

Hamas can, if it has the will, learn a lesson(s) from the Zionists of 60 years ago. The worlds attention is on them now, and they have to rise to the challenge of helping the Palestinian state into existence.

Everyone expects them to continue to use 'terror'(tm). I fully expect some members to continue in that manner, however I fervently hope, and think, that now they have power, with the overwhelming support of the Palestinian people behind them, that there is a golden (or green) opportunity to move forward with a strong political hand towards the two state solution.

The world awaits with baited breath, and a lot of anxiety, to what Hamas will do next. Changing their charter calling for the destruction of the Israeli state will be a fantastic first step.

Demographics will bring the once named British Mandated Palestine back into the original local populations control over the next few decades - simply wait, and learn how to co-exist with the many Israelis who do wish peace.

Kind regards, and good luck.

Shaggy

10:42 PM  
Blogger Sauron said...

I heard your interview on Open Source Radio tonight, and I was both moved and impressed. Please continue writing, and giving us your unique viewpoint.

I have put a link to your blog on my own:
http://sauronblog.blogspot.com/

8:38 AM  
Blogger Zak said...

It's kind of obvious right wing groups since the 1990's have always outperformed Nationalists in providing effective governance..actually allowing them into power is a unique element in the Arab world..for that the credit goes to the yanks and Israel..!

6:58 PM  

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