Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

August 30, 2005

Islam and Democracy

In the past when the word democracy was mentioned, the words liberal or secular would always accompany and precede it. Today, however it is a given that democracy will be secular. This taking for granted of the two terms as going hand in hand is what has befuddled the American Administration when the Iraqi people voted for Islamic parties in elections last year.
Recall the banners waved by Iraqi's "No to America, No to Saddam, Yes to Islam." This insensitivity towards Muslim feelings and disregard of a governing system which is based on the core values of Islam is a destructive path embarked upon by United States foreign policy and military adventures. According to the American administration, Muslims must either accept and become enlightened by western secular and liberal values and by extension be labeled progressive or reject such notions and become "fundamentalists" enemy states by default.

Democracy in Afghanistan

"It will be the heart of democracy in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remarked today as the foundation stone of the Afghan Parliament was laid by former King Zahir Shah.
To resemble the Indian Parliament, the building will be built by India at a cost of 25 million dollars over a four-year period. It will have Upper and Lower Houses on the lines of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.
Singh, who witnessed the foundation laying ceremony along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top leaders, stressed that "democratic institutions in Afghanistan need to be nurtured and nursed." He described the occasion, which comes two weeks before the Afghan Parliamentary elections, as marking a new phase in the history of the "blessed country".

August 28, 2005

Zionism vs Nazism?

In an interview with an Egyptian weekly newspaper, a nuclear whistleblower accuses Israel of perpetrating 'Holocaust' against Palestinians and says that the Jewish state is a 'negative democracy' that ruins the world.

Israel treats people like animals, and its conduct towards the Palestinian constitutes a "Holocaust," nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu charged in a provocative interview with al-Ahram.

Report here

August 27, 2005

Poland’s journey to democracy

Twenty-five years ago, the workers of the shipyards at Gdansk, Poland, went on strike. A few years earlier, in the same city, the police of the Communist regime had murdered strikers on the streets. This time, the workers locked themselves into the yards – and dispatched emissaries throughout Poland to ask for support. Their leader, a devout Catholic electrician with nine children and a record of stubborn opposition to the government, was Lech Walesa – who at once became an international media star. Support came, in the form of demonstrations and strikes throughout the country.

Sixteen months later, in December of 1981, the regime struck back. The army under General Jaruzelski proclaimed martial law, arrested Walesa and the other Solidarity leaders, including many writers and teachers, and literally turned off the nation’s phones.

Mauritanian junta critic changes position

After initially opposing the military junta that seized power in Mauritania on 3 August, the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RDU) must be in a trance. It is now backing the ideas of the new administration.

The RDU expressed the hope that the military coup will save democracy, the country, and the entire Mauritanian people.

Does this sound strange to you? More here.

Teaching democracy to Ghanaians

"Democracy is a political system which has many different meanings and can take different forms. It is often incorrectly used as a synonym for capitalism. Fundamentally, it means a government of, by and for the people. The concept of democracy is based on the simple principle that when making an important public decision, the majority vote should prevail because the will of the majority outweighs the wants of the minority. The methods of implementing a governmental institution based on this simple principle can be complicated, but are made proper if a pluralistic party system is used. Having a viable alternative in choosing between two or more forms of political parties improves the chances of greater governmental management - because if one party should fail, the other party, or parties, would have at least some experience in directing".

Full article available here.

August 26, 2005

Europe's future

2005 has proved a bad year for supporters of the integration and expansion of the European Union. The majority of voters in the referenda in France (29 May) and in the Netherlands (1 June) rejected the EU’s constitutional treaty; the subsequent summit in Brussels (16-17 June) failed to agree the union’s budget for 2007-2013.

The prevailing opinion in European and world media is that these events have inflicted a severe blow on EU institutions, as well as revealing sharp, troubling divisions over the union’s very identity and direction. Some commentators (like Gwyn Prins in openDemocracy) suggest that monetary union and the euro are doomed; others declare that enlargement is at an end. Few note that the Europessimists’ referendum victories were no landslides, or that the EU’s budget debates have always been fractious.

August 25, 2005


On 5 August, four weeks after the London bombings that killed 52 passengers and injured 500 more, Tony Blair announced a series of anti-terror measures that signified a radical departure from the traditional British approach towards its Muslim community. If implemented, their combined impact would be to end the policy of "Londonistan" – the contract whereby political asylum was given to radical Islamist ideologists in return for keeping Britain safe from violence. Full article.

Gadhafi`s democracy

As part of efforts to bring about democracy and freedom to the more restrictive countries of the Arab world, the Bush administration is cozying up to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi after he reneged on terrorism and gave up trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Gadhafi, the one-time blackest of sheep among Middle East potentates, has suddenly turned a lighter shade of gray.

The all too familiar tactics of the US administration in full view.

C.I.A. style NGO's?

"I sensed that the government agrees with allowing all NGOs ensuring transparency of their funding to monitor the poll. The Council of Europe is ready to provide its assistance in this area", said Rene van Der Linden, president of PACE.
Linden said that one of the key objectives is to punish those who gave way to violations of law during the 2003 presidential elections in Azerbaijan. "The issue should be solved prior to the elections to raise public trust on the poll." He emphasized that the independence of media should be ensured and favorable conditions provided for opposition's access to television. The democracy army at work.

Africa needs democracy

“As I reflect on my 10 years as president and as I look over the African political landscape in the last half century, I am convinced that the time has come for Africa to go back to the drawing board and design a new paradigm of governance in Africa-democratic governance with African characteristics,” Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa said.

Brussels funding pro-democracy radio

The EU Observer reports that The European Commission is to support radio and internet broadcasting in Belarus in a bid to increase the country's awareness about democracy and human rights.
The coverage will include daily 15-minute news items on current affairs in Belarus, prepared by the Radio's own correspondents, as well as an internet version. More here.

August 22, 2005

Al-Qaida's World Wide Web

Muslim radicalism has moved beyond the language of citizenship to assume a global countenance, joining movements as different as environmentalism and pacifism in its pursuit of justice on a worldwide scale.
Such movements are ethical rather than political in nature: they can neither predict nor control the global consequences of their actions. The acts of those involved in global networks such as al-Qaida are free from politics of a traditional sort, which demands collective agreement on certain theses, plans and goals.
Read more here

India hosts conference on democracy and media

An event planned for later this year will cover a range of topics related to fostering more democracy and participation though the media. The fifth Our Media conference is scheduled for December 5 to 9 in Bangalore, India.

August 31 is the deadline to submit proposals for papers, presentations or panel discussions. The event will include people who work with the media, technology, related NGOs, or others who are interested in the theme of “Democracy and the Media”.

Zimbabwe’s paper dreams

As Mugabe tightens his grip on virtual and real pathways out of Zimbabwe, a glimpse of people still fighting for individual freedom.
Robert Mugabe’s government is locking the country’s exit doors, shutting its citizens’ minds – and creating a nation of mathematical geniuses. Read 3 reports from “The Zimbabwean” on life under Zanu-PF.

Indifferent To Democracy

As the U.S. stumbles in Iraq, many in the Arab world (but also in the American academic left and isolationist right) have solemnly, at times pleasurably, described the situation as fitting retribution for "neocolonialism." The debate on America's imperial calling, particularly in the Middle East, is surely absorbing; yet from an Arab perspective, particularly that of the region's liberals, far more essential than how a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might smash the Bush administration's hubris is the misfortune it will visit on Arabs striving for change. Read more.

August 18, 2005

Germany's election

Germany’s supreme court in Karlsruhe has heard an appeal by two members of parliament from the ruling coalition - Jelena Hoffmann of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Werner Schulz of the Greens – against the federal president, Horst Köhler’s, decision to allow the dissolution of parliament after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had finagled the Bundestag into a vote of no confidence in his government on 1 July 2005.

Michael Naumann,
Chief Editor and Publisher of Germany’s influential weekly Die Zeit reports on Germany's momentous 18 September election in a new and exciting blog.

Democracy As Regional Integration Factor

The Southern Africa new context, characterised by the consolidation of peace and democracy, opens better perspectives for the solution to the various problems still facing the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member countries.

This is contained in an Angolan Government declaration released Wednesday in Luanda, to hail the 25th anniversary of SADC, on August 17. Read more

Fixing democracy in Philippines

The opposition has failed to present a credible leadership option, even for an extra-constitutional process. Fernando Poe, the ostensibly cheated candidate, is dead. Some oppositionists have tried to recruit his widow, actress Susan Roces, but Roces hardly seems cut out to lead a nation. Former police chief Panfilo Lacson, who placed a distant third in the 2004 election, is waving his hand wildly in the background, but there is little evident interest in sending him the call. The Estrada faction of the opposition has vaguely proposed a “governing council” to supervise a new election: not surprisingly, the members of the council they propose would be drawn from their ranks.

A new round of scandal has brought democracy in the Philippines to breaking point. If democratic revival is possible it can only come from the people themselves, says Steven Rogers.

August 17, 2005

The return of the Aids plague

Brazil's efforts to secure affordable medicine for its 600,000 HIV patients is making Big Pharma shiver - but treatment for suffering millions in the global south will be a long campaign.

A global regime where private corporations can enforce intellectual property rights to the detriment of public health is bad news for the millions most vulnerable to HIV/Aids, reports Tom Burgis.

Oil and justice don't mix

The oil pipeline connecting Azerbaijan and Turkey via Georgia is operating after years of protest. Will it heal or intensify the conflicts of the southern Caucasus?
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that runs through Georgia's Borjomi Valley is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, reports Chris Smith

Saudi democracy tsunami

"If an election were held in Saudi Arabia today...Osama bin Laden would be elected in a landslide—not because the Saudi people want to wash their hands in the blood of the dead of September 11, but simply because bin Laden has dared to do what even the mighty United States of America won't do: stand up to the thieves who rule the country."

Read more on Caspar Henderson's Grains of Sand blog

Iraq: a constitution or an epitaph?

Iraqi politicians have a new deadline of 22 August to reach agreement on a new constitution. Zaid Al-Ali asks if extra time can resolve fundamental differences of political democratic principles over federalism, women, and religion.

Eritrean Movement for Democracy

The EMDHR officially launched a Civic Awareness Project on 14 august 2005 under the motto of ‘Affairs of the People by the People’ in a discussion session held among Eritreans residing in Pretoria.

The project involves the development of a manual through discussions that involve the Eritrean public. The manual is expected to promote the idea of sustainable democracy and rule of law and their paramount importance for a peaceful and prosperous Eritrea.

Iraq - Democracy at work

The negotiations under way on Iraq’s new constitution are an example of "democracy at work," according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the progress that has been achieved in addressing difficult issues and forging a consensus over the past several months should carry the constitutional process through to completion in the coming days.

America's "democracy by force"

Mariano Aguirre, fresh from his assault on Michael Ignatieff, now turns both barrels on the critic of his own “liberal orthodoxy” and America's export of democracy.

Philippines’ democracy in turmoil

A new round of scandal has brought democracy in the Philippines to breaking point. If democratic revival is possible it can only come from the people themselves, says Steven Rogers on