Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not Getting It

Not really sure how to interpret the election outcome in Iraq. Early results seem to indicate a ratification of the nation's constitution. That's cause for optimisim, right? Well, yes. However, when I read this, I wondered whether the Iraqis really understand what democracy is all about:

While a strong Sunni turnout in Saturday's referendum suggested a desire among many to participate in Iraq's new political system, there were fears that anger at being ruled under a constitution they oppose could push some into supporting the Sunni-led insurgency.
"If the constitution was passed, the attacks will definitely rise against the occupation forces, and the security situation is going to be worse," said Sheik Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi, a prominent cleric with the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, which government officials accuse of links to the insurgency.

A fundamental tenet of the democratic process is that mere participation does not guarantee desired outcomes. The true measure of a successful democracy is that when a free and fair election is held, those who do not get their desired outcome nonetheless accept it. Everyone respects the process and the result.

Regardless of Sunday's outcome, I doubt anyone has illusions that the violence will suddenly stop in Iraq. But if those who participated in the election come to feel disenfranchised because of the result and join the insurgency, even though they participated in the electoral process, it will raise real questions about the solidity of Iraq's nascent democracy.

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