Middle East Democracy: Forbidden Fruit

Israelis will choose a new government later this month. Palestinians had also planned to go to the polls, but their election has been shelved. Under occupation and expected to stop the violence as well as reform, their situation has done little to bolster faith in democracy. This personal assessment of the power of the polls indicates that free and fair elections have not made much headway in the Middle East.

The World Today
Published 1 January 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 4 minute READ

Dr Maha Azzam

A little over ten years ago, a number of Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa felt the breeze of democracy that blew across our globe. Unlike Eastern Europe and Central America, in the Arab and Muslim regions the breeze soon gave way to scorching winds of turmoil that only consolidated existing dictatorships.

Democracy, in as much as it entails free elections, accountability, transparency, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights, is a forbidden fruit. Nevertheless, almost every single occupier of a seat of power throughout the twenty two Arab ‘territorial’ entities has come under pressure to liberalise and democratise.

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