[Assam] Democracy’s Price of Admission
Pragyan Tinsukia College
pragyan.tsc50 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 5 21:07:14 IST 2009
The writer wrote,
"Radical groups can become legitimate political players in the democratic
process if they accept core democratic principles and abandon the use of
force as a political tool."
Then, Will the writer accept that his own country and its ruling parties are
not legitimate political players?
On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 5:51 PM, Dilip and Dil Deka <dilipdeka at yahoo.com>wrote:
> Food for thought.
> Applies also to our neck of the woods - Assam.
> From the NYT
> Op-Ed Contributor
> Democracy’s Price of Admission
> By TZIPI LIVNI
> Published: June 5, 2009
> IN his speech in Cairo yesterday, President Obama acknowledged an important
> principle: “Elections alone do not make true democracy.” That principle will
> be tested this weekend when the Lebanese people go to the polls. Many have
> called for the elections to be free and fair. But few have asked whether
> this is even possible if Hezbollah — the radical Shiite party with a huge
> arsenal and a deeply anti-democratic agenda — is viewed as a legitimate
> participant in the process.
> A similar question arose before Hamas’s participation in the 2006
> Palestinian Authority elections. Then, as Israeli justice minister, I tried
> in vain to persuade the international community that to promote democracy it
> was not enough to focus on the technical conduct of elections, it was
> necessary to insist that those who sought the benefits of the democratic
> process accepted its underlying principles as well.
> At the time, the counterargument was that the very participation in
> elections would act as a moderating force on extremist groups. With more
> accountability, such groups would be tempted to abandon their militant
> approach in favor of a purely political platform.
> But this analysis ignored the possibility that some radical groups sought
> participation in the democratic process not to forsake their violent agenda
> but to advance it. For them, electoral participation was merely a way to
> gain legitimacy — not an opportunity to change. Some of these groups were
> better seen as “one-time democrats” determined to use the democratic system
> against itself.
> I believe that democracy is about values before it is about voting. These
> values must be nurtured within society and integrated into the electoral
> process itself. We cannot offer international legitimacy for radical groups
> and then simply hope that elections and governance will take care of the
> rest. In fact, the capacity to influence radical groups can diminish
> significantly once they are viewed as indispensable coalition partners and
> are able to intimidate the electorate with the authority of the state behind
> For this reason, the international community must adopt at the global level
> what true democracies apply at the national one — a universal code for
> participation in democratic elections. This would include requiring every
> party running for office to renounce violence, pursue its aims by peaceful
> means and commit to binding laws and international agreements. This code
> should be adopted by international institutions, like the United Nations, as
> well as regional bodies. It would guide elections monitors and individual
> nations in deciding whether to accord parties the stamp of democratic
> legitimacy, and signal to voters that electing an undemocratic party would
> have negative international consequences for their country.
> The intent here is not to stifle disagreement, exclude key actors from the
> political process or suggest that democracy be uniform and disregard local
> cultures and values. The goal is to make clear that the democratic process
> is not a free pass — it is about responsibilities as well as rights. (This
> is why, for instance, Israel banned the radical Kach movement from the
> electoral process.)
> Mr. Obama’s call to support genuine democracy has implications for the
> kinds of elections the international community promotes and endorses.
> Radical groups can become legitimate political players in the democratic
> process if they accept core democratic principles and abandon the use of
> force as a political tool. Or they can maintain armed terrorist militias in
> order to threaten their neighbors and intimidate their people. The
> international community should not allow them to do both.. Unless such
> groups are forced to choose between these conflicting identities, their
> participation in elections not only risks empowering extremists, it risks
> debasing the values of democracy itself.
> Tzipi Livni, a former vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs
> of Israel, is the leader of the Kadima party, and head of the Israeli
> assam mailing list
> assam at assamnet.org
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