The Dynamics of Egypt's Elections

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published September 29, 2010

No one thinks parliamentary elections in Egypt are democratic or even semi-democratic. The elections do not determine who governs. They are not free and fair. They install a parliament with no power to check the president. The government National Democratic Party (NDP) always manufactures a whopping majority, never getting less than 70 percent of the seats. The opposition is kept on a tight leash, restrained by police intimidation, rampant fraud and severe limits on outreach to voters. And citizens know that elections are rigged, with polling places often blocked off by baton-wielding police, so few of them vote.

Do-e Khordad and the Specter of Democracy

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER212

A shadow haunts Iran, the shadow of democracy and popular sovereignty. Twenty years ago the Islamic Revolution established a polity based on two contradictory elements: a republic of equal and sovereign citizens, and a hierarchical theocracy of pastoral power descending from an unelected religious leader (vali-e faqih, the Supreme Leader), which represented an innovation in Shi‘i Islam. The inevitable tensions between these irreconcilable elements are now coming to a head. [1]

Kerry on Israel: Me Too

by Catherine Cook | published May 10, 2004

In a May 3 address to the Anti-Defamation League's National Leadership Conference, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry reiterated his steadfast support for Israel and assured attendees that, if elected, he would never force Israel to negotiate without a “credible partner.”

Statements supportive of Israel by U.S. leaders are not unusual; particularly during an election year when the candidate is seeking support from a group of prominent American Jews. But Kerry’s remarks are telling about the nature of the upcoming election and bode ill for the future of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

An Occupation By Any Other Name...

by Maren Milligan | published June 29, 2004

Monday’s transfer of authority—two days before the June 30 date—is being touted as the date of Iraqi independence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The unfolding political transition in Iraq will keep sovereign power in the hands of Americans in every relevant sense.

Why Hamas Won and Why Negotiations Must Resume

by Joel Beinin | published February 8, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has admitted that her staff was caught off guard by Hamas’ victory in the Jan. 25 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” she said. “It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse.”

While the State Department, President Bush and many other observers understand that Hamas’ popularity is due to frustration with Fatah’s corrupt governance of the Palestinian Authority, they have been missing several other crucial reasons why the P.A. has failed.

The Conflict After Israel's Elections

by Joel Beinin | published March 27, 2006

No matter how Israelis vote tomorrow, they will likely be voting for a future of insecurity and conflict. The three major political parties—the right-wing Likud, the “centrist” Kadima and the so-called left-wing Labor—have not offered them a genuine peace option.

Despite the talk of possible Israeli withdrawals from parts of the West Bank, a new consensus has emerged among these parties that East Jerusalem and Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank should be annexed to Israel. This would violate international law, destroy the possibility of a viable Palestinian state and condemn the Middle East to ongoing strife.

Out of the Rubble

by Mouin Rabbani | published January 23, 2009

Speaking to his people on January 18, hours after Hamas responded to Israel’s unilateral suspension of hostilities with a conditional ceasefire of its own, the deposed Palestinian Authority prime minister Ismail Haniyeh devoted several passages of his prepared text to the subject of Palestinian national reconciliation. For perhaps the first time since Hamas’s June 2007 seizure of power in the Gaza Strip, an Islamist leader broached the topic of healing the Palestinian divide without mentioning Mahmoud Abbas by name.

A New Conversation Peace

by Chris Toensing | published April 9, 2010

Iyad Allawi, the not terribly popular interim premier of post-Saddam Iraq, is in a position to form a government again because he won over the Sunni Arabs residing north and west of Baghdad in the March 7 elections. The vote, while it did not “shove political sectarianism in Iraq toward the grave,” as Allawi would have it, rekindled the hopes of many that “nationalist” sentiment has asserted itself over communal loyalty.

Bouteflika’s Triumph and Algeria’s Tragedy

by Jacob Mundy | published April 10, 2009

Shoes and pants soaked with rain, I tagged along with a journalist from the popular Arabic daily Echorouk—his paper my umbrella—while he visited polling stations in the Belcourt neighborhood of Algiers on the day of local elections in November 2007. At the first site, disgruntled party officials quickly ejected us. We did not have the right papers, they said, and the police who looked on bored were inclined to agree. At the second station, we kept our distance. Watching for half an hour, we could count the voters who entered on two hands. Next to us stood four youths, escaping the rain under a shop awning. They laughed at us when we asked if they were going to vote. Down the road we saw an older gentleman on his way back from voting.

Introducing Algeria’s President-for-Life

by Ahmed Aghrout , Yahia Zoubir | published April 1, 2009

Across nearly the breadth of North Africa, the head of state enjoys a lifetime appointment. Morocco has a king. In Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, president since 1987, pushed for a constitutional amendment removing term limits and has now announced a bid for a fifth term in office. President Husni Mubarak of Egypt, who assumed office in 1981, is already serving his fifth term. Libyan strongman Mu‘ammar Qaddafi, in power since September 1969, has never permitted a meaningful election.