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Scrutiny
  
Election elects the unelected!?!
Major countries in the world hold elections but and most of them end up electing the unelected
30/04/2009

Imagine the course of the history if Al Gore were to be President of the US instead of George W. Bush and Zharmakhan Tuyaqbay the opposition leader of Kazakhstan instead of Nursultan Nazarbayev. This might seem like a fairytale but would not have been impossible had the world had ‘free and fair’ elections. Thus, here we attempt to analyze how fraud and gun power in elections have changed the world’s history which otherwise would have been quite different .Often countries across the world hold elections which end up electing the ‘unelected’. A bigger irony is that even dictators hold elections to vindicate the fact to the world that how democratic they are. Yet no prizes for guessing how fair those elections eventually turn out to be. Consider this: Enver Hoxha, former communist leader of a South European country, Albania garnered 99.90% of the vote (upset because his expectation was 99.99%) which not only surprised and outraged the Albanians but the world at large. Perhaps the most notorious of all elections was witnessed in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. His rule in Iraq since 1979 notwithstanding, the first presidential election took place in Iraq in 1995 - framing a referendum where no one from the opposition parties was allowed to contest. Iraqis were given a paper ballot asking “Do you agree that Saddam Hussein should be the President of the Republic of Iraq for another seven years?” And all the option they were given was just to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The next day, Izzat Ibrahim, Hussein’s deputy declared Saddam Hussein as the winner with 99.96% of the 8.4 million votes.

This trend is bluntly pervasive in many of the African and Central Asian countries too. Most recently, Nursultan Nazarbayev and his political party, the Fatherland won 91.15% votes in Kazakhstan in the 2005 Presidential election and left no seat for the oppositions in the Mazhilis, the lower house of Kazakh parliament. The opposition leaders criticised this severely and then rejected the result stating it as the most fraudulent election that has ever taken place there and warned people of the shape of things to come if Nazarbayev is allowed to hold on to power. International observers like The International Election Observation Mission too agreed that the election failed to meet many international standards.
Other international monitors like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressed their agony for the limited ‘possibility of a meaningful competition’ due to rigorous harassments and intimidations of opposition candidates by the ruling party. In another case, a tiny African country, Equatorial Guinea has for long been striving for ‘free and fair’ elections in order to achieve a transparent democracy. Yet its efforts have been in vain. President Mbasogo won the presidential election for the third time in 2002 with an incredible 99.5% of vote share. This, however was not because of his popularity but because of official threats, irregularities and frauds which forced many opposition leaders to back out from contesting. Those who had planned to vote against him were threatened with dire consequences. The list of such fraudulent elections is rather long even in the 21st century.

The sad part of this saga is that it would be unfair to blame only the dictators of impoverished countries of the third world for allowing such dictators to continue with such malpractices. Such irregularities are also witnessed in countries which otherwise take pride in having advanced democracies. What can be a better example than George Bush’s victories in presidential election? Perhaps no other election was so openly fraudulent as that of George Bush’s in the year 2000 which not only got censured globally but also created resentment and dissatisfaction among democracy advocates.. It was the first US election which showed that Al Gore failed to win in spite of gaining more popular votes than Bush. The result was actually in favour of Gore and Florida was the key state in deciding the winner, but then the world was shocked when Bush was declared the victor! However, his win was not possible without the alleged irregularities in Florida. “Butterfly ballot” in the Palm Beach county was designed strangely to confuse the voters. As a result, their votes had gone for a third party candidate which would have gone for Gore. Duval county had also wasted over 27,000 votes because of the bewildering design of ballot papers.

By:- Akram Hoque
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