Monday, December 03, 2007

Goodbye, Democracy. It was nice knowing you...

Well, we're in a right state at the moment. Globally, I mean. Democracy has taken rather a beating and things don't look like they're going to change any time soon.

First off, we have President Bush and Gordon Brown, leading the west.

President Bush, of course, didn't actually win the 2000 election that brought him into the White House (if you'll believe popular rumour, Al Gore actually won the popular vote, but capitulated before it hit the supreme courts.)

Gordon Brown, over in the UK, didn't even have to worry about a vote. He was rushed into 10 Downing Street on Tony Blair's coat tails and the Labour Party couldn't even muster enough enthusiasm to offer a token opposition (even if it was for entertainment value alone.)

The European Union, now nudging America off the financial top spot by a few GDP percentage points, is a ridiculously undemocratic organisation. Oh, sure, there's a European Parliament which has elected members chosen from each member state - but the executive branch of the European Union - the body that makes the laws, decisions and treaties regarding the running of the Union - is made up of 27 commissioners who are handpicked by their nation's government. Not one of these commissioners ever has to worry about an election.

So considering the West's atrocious recent history with democracy, it's no wonder that the petty crooks and wannabe generalissimos on the other side of the political spectrum are neatly sidestepping due process and trying to keep that riff raff 'public' out of the important business of running their tinpot dictatorships.

Poor old Hugo Chavez, who was attempting to abolish term limits so he could be 'el presidente' for life in oil-rich Venezuela, was dealt a blow when the people of his country nixed his little scheme. His fatal mistake, of course, was having a referendum in the first place. Although being democratically elected 'leader for life' worked for the likes of Adolf Hitler, the problem when you do things 'the right way' is that you don't always get the result you wanted.

Old Vladimir Putin, the new Iron Man of Russia, wasn't going to make the same mistake. He's proudly boasting about his recent victory in the polls - which awarded his United Russia Party with 70% of the seats in parliament.

He wisely decided not to risk involvement with the 'democratic' process and swept to victory on the back of what Gary Kasparov called: "the most unfair and dirtiest election in the whole history of modern Russia."

Gary should be careful what he says. Putin has a radioactive response to his more vocal critics, as demonstrated by the grisly fate of reporter Alexander Litvinenko - who was poisoned by a pellet of Polonium-210 traced back to Putin's old KGB buddies.

The 'bad guys' like Putain and Chavez will always be petty crooks and dictators - but much of the criticism we in the west level at their crooked political process is diluted by our less than exemplary recent history.

We can only hope that the next general election in Great Britain and the 2008 Presidential Election will bring a bit of openness, legitimacy and authority to the way the western world is run - and serve as a shining example to the rest of the world about how great democracy can really be.

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