Monday, June 21, 2004


Possible Dangers and Suggested Safeguards

1. Violence, intimidation and chaos.
Little violence is expected in most Mahallas due to the relative uniformity of the population. The Authority (preferably under the UN umbrella) has a part to play in potentially volatile locations.

2. Low caliber of representatives.
Place a minimum age limit for candidacy.
Place a minimum education level for candidates: literacy, high school, college education, for different levels of councils.

3. Infiltration by captains of the former-regime.
Prohibit high-ranking former Baath party officials from being nominated. This has to be for a limited period only, say for the first round.

4. Infiltration by extremists and fundamentalists.
There is always a danger! But democracy may be worth risking this. The process may be even beneficial in providing a platform for people to vent there beliefs as long as democracy itself is not threatened. In most countries, these people are a small minority.

5. Dominance of the National Assembly by the majority Shiites!
Shiite is such a loose term, like Protestant or Catholic…there are secular Shiites, moderate Shiites, etc. In vast rural areas, people (about 35% of the population) are very likely to be represented by local elders and tribal chiefs. These are practical, reconciliatory compromise-makers who, in the normal course of their routine social role, are quite accustomed to finding acceptable solutions to problems.
The only potentially troublesome areas are the deprived densely-populated urban areas and religious centers. Many Shiites feel that they have been oppressed simply for being Shiite. It is a legacy of past governments which has to be accepted and addressed .Only time and democracy will alleviate these grievances. At present, it has to be accepted that many of these people will turn to religious figures for leadership.

6. “Ignorance and backwardness”
of much of the electorate in many districts will naturally lead to considerable distortion to the democratic process! Many illiterates, racists, rich and “undesirable” persons will be elected. This is to be expected and we have to live with it. The important thing is to install the system itself. Democracy has repeatedly proved that it can be self-correcting! The Electorate only get what they themselves choose. When people realize the importance of the voting power they have and its immediate effect on their lives they will naturally use it to their own benefit in the end. Sometime or other we have to go through that pain of the birth of democracy!

With these fears and dangers in mind, it has to be said that one of the main features of the democratic system of government is that it facilitates self-correction through non-violent means.

The majority has to be trusted to make sensible judgments in the long term. This is the essence of democracy!

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