Why elections are sweet and sour

By: Bikram Vohra

Whatever else one might say about the elections in India besides their having been the largest ever with over 850 million people taking part, the handing over of power was a tribute to the democratic process. While American TV comedians tastelessly tried to make fun of it, at least India did not have a Florida fraud.

In Egypt, the election fervor is nonexistent and the voting moved into Day 3 in a desperate effort to get the listless electorate to line up. The candidates found this extended deadline quite against the rules and spirit of the exercise in franchise but the election commission ignored their pleas and opened up Wednesday to get more numbers into the battle which pits former army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sissi against Hamdeen Sabahy.

“We strongly denounce the (election commission’s) decision to extend voting another day. Extending the voting period for no real plausible reason will open the door to possible vote violations and rigging,” said Hussein AbdelGhany, a top adviser to Sabahy.

Denounce all you want, brother, they might even do a fourth day today in case they don’t like the slipshod attitude of the people. Of course, the absence of enthusiasm was not given as a reason. The reason put forward was more logical. Let people from far off areas manage to transport themselves to the polling booths. Forgot to add that the same people could have started their trek that much earlier.

Electronic media has not been able to galvanize the people and even popular TV hosts who trying to exhort the viewers to go out and vote did not strike a chord.

The first round of voting in Syria, meanwhile, finished its first phase of foreign-based Syrians exercising their right to vote. A 7-hour window was widened to 12 hours to enable the “long lines” to complete the task. Not everyone saw these long lines but they were there according to the official version.

What was not put out for public consumption was that several countries do not have Syrian diplomatic missions, so they could not legitimately cast a vote for any of the three candidates hopefully vying against incumbent Bashar Assad. According to some news reports, Syrians in 11 out of 21 Arab countries were not be able to cast ballots, either because their embassies have been shut down or because they never had a diplomatic representation there.

Around 1.6 million Syrians cannot vote in the GCC countries as they cannot cast ballots in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, the three countries where they have large communities. So much for that and we now move into the next phase which is the domestic vote on June 3, ostensibly indicating a mini landslide victory for guess who?

Email: bikram@asianlite.com




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