A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
THE DEMOCRATIC DESPOT
“If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” - Aristotle
The recent events in Iran in the wake of that country’s elections fill me with a great deal of apprehension. They are reminiscent of so many other such “elections” where the ruling party is overwhelmingly returned to power in an election which seems to be rife with “irregularities” and is not transparent. The will of the people seems not to have been represented in the Friday 12th election, the 10th presidential election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran's presidential elections are tightly controlled, and, once elected, the office holder has limited power, but it remains the highest position determined by popular vote.
The decision of the people was whether to keep hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power for four more years, or to replace him with a reformist more open to loosening the country's Islamic restrictions and improving ties with the United States, represented by Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former Prime Minister of Iran. Mousavi's campaign was propelled in recent weeks by young voters using high-tech campaign tactics. This is significant, as more than 66% of Iranians are under the age of 30 years.
Iranians became very angry at the results of last week’s election since it was quickly announced following the poll. They began daily protests and tens of thousands of people swelled to flood the streets and public squares of the capital, pushing their protest ever forward. Six soccer players on the national team wore opposition green wristbands at a World Cup qualifying game in open support of the official runner up Mir Hossein Mousavi and the favourite before the election.
The government worked on many fronts to shield the outside world’s view of the unrest, banning coverage of the demonstrations, arresting journalists, threatening bloggers and trying to block Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have become vital outlets for information about the rising confrontation in Iran. Deaths of about ten protesters were cause of yet more protests and people dressed in black objected to the government’s imputed fraudulent victory. The 63 percent of the vote to Mr Ahmadinejad contrasting to 34 percent to Mr. Moussavi is being hailed as ridiculous and the demonstrators who represent a cross section of Iranian society and part of the clerical establishment have called the official results a fraud.
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on state matters and who certified Mr. Ahmadinejad’s re-election, apparently made two concessions to the protests, ordering an investigation into the election and calling for a partial recount. Mr. Moussavi and the protesters are rejecting anything less than new elections.
This is yet another tinder box in this troubled part of the world, waiting for a spark to ignite…
despot |ˈdespət| noun A ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way. DERIVATIVES despotic |diˈspätik| adjective despotically |dəˈspɑdək(ə)li| adverb ORIGIN mid 16th century: from French despote, via medieval Latin from Greek despotēs ‘master, absolute ruler.’ Originally (after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople) the term denoted a petty Christian ruler under the Turkish empire. The current sense dates from the late 18th century. Jacqui BB hosts Word Thursday
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.