On Selective Democracy

By: Marwan Moasher

تم نشره في Tue 26 July / Jul 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Tue 26 July / Jul 2016. 07:54 PM
  • Marwan Al Moasher

Much has been said on the failed coup attempt in Turkey. The Jordanian populace polarised between proponent and opponent, and media channels, mainly online, were full of analyses and theorisation on the happenings there. And what is evident through the overall debate, is the frailty of the pluralist democratic culture among many who count themselves part of the Liberal or Secular current in particular.

Democracy, to many secularists and liberalists, is distinctly selective; in a democratic process, should the results of the process come in their favour, they become viciously democratic. However, should the results come in favour of the adversary, then they would not mind parking with dictatorship or military coups on their side, long as it serves the purpose of excluding their adversary.

This is evident in previous situations. When President Abdul Fattah Sisi orchestrated his coup in Egypt, back in 2013, even with the vast popular alignment that has failed to show in the polls, it was ok for Mursi’s dictatorship to be substituted with the Military’s there, because it serves the interests of the Liberal current. And what was the result of that? The Egyptian regime became even more resistant to reformation; secular or religious. Egypt faces an enormous sum of economic and political challenges that are beginning to reflect on the regime’s popularity, clearly.

The same event occurs in Turkey, and many liberalists seem more than ready to support the coup on democracy because Erdogan’s methods and behaviours do not suit them. Even if he were not behaving tyrannically, it is okay to overthrow him so; tyrannically, because the dictatorship of elected Erdogan is provocative, while that of the unelected military seems to be okay with many people.

You know what? Give me one military coup in the Arab World that has led to economic or political welfare? Or any kind of welfare for that matter!!

Many of us are selectively democratic. Some of us, particularly the seculars, find no issue in supporting Assad’s regime in Syria, which has brought death to hundreds of thousands of their own people, and go praise democracy and freedoms at the same time.

Meanwhile, in the opposition, some of those affiliated with the religious current are calling for democracy and pluralism, but they do not mind exclusive behaviours by the other some whom are affiliated with their current. If were to object on the others’ exclusive approaches, they would immediately be fought and cast out.

We speak of democracy and pluralism, but start excluding others at first trial. Is this how countries are built?

Selective democracy means no democracy; pluralism obligates all parties to respect opposing views in expression, whether or not these views are accepted. Change comes through the polls. And if the polls do not suffice in the construction of a pluralist democratic society, and they are not, then no good, otherwise, would come from restoring totalitarianism; because totalitarian regimes carry the responsibility of destroying effective legislative and judicial institutions. The only possible good comes from the construction of these institutions, which provide the security needed to safeguard the rights of all social components. And only when this is reality, can there be a chance to establish prosperous, stable societies, where the people are heard and state institutions work on end to protect the interests of the masses, not the narrow interests of the very few.

It is time we develop an advanced conceptualisation of democracy that is inclusive of everybody, and establish institutions purposed with the protection of this democracy, against all who try to bring it down from outside of the system. We may disagree on Erdogan’s persona as well as positions and stance, but we must never disagree on whose right it is to decide whether he stays in office or leaves. This authority is of the people’s, not the military’s; those who allow themselves to exclude others, allow others to exclude them. It is a simple equation, and it is clear; despite the interests of all those of us to willingly dismiss it in favour of instantaneous narrow interests, on the expense of their own country’s on the long run.

Again, selective democracy is not democracy. And the secular and religious currents will never succeed in annihilating each other. The only solution lies in the building of establishments that allow for both ends of the political current to express themselves without terrorising them or excluding them, allowing for the polls to decide who gets where.