Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Royal Republics!

Yesterday I heard that Fidel Castro resigned. I was so impressed. I thought to myself that Castro has really done the right thing by clearing the way for a successor. Today I learnt that Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul (76 year-young), is now the president of Cuba. Fidel Castro fell faster than a hot potato from the pedestal I had placed him on less than twenty four hours earlier.

I find it ironic that we are witnessing in Cuba what is typical of many political models around us in the Arab world. In other words, republics that pass on leadership based on hereditary rights. The countries that come to mind are Egypt, Syria and Libya.

Egypt and Syria claim a republic for their government model. A republic is defined as “a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president”. A monarch, on the other hand, is defined as “one who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right”. While Libya’s government model is a Jamahiriya (a state of the masses), which is in theory, governed by the populace through local councils. All three countries claim some sort of participatory process whereby people have a say in the selection and election of their political leaders.

A brief examination of the most recent presidential elections in those countries shows discrepancies and inconsistencies between what the system is in theory and what it is in reality. For example consider the following:

A republic in theory. Last election was held on 6 March 2003. The next election was to be held in March 2008. Could the timing of the resignation of Fidel Castro have anything to do with this? I wonder.
The results of the last election: Fidel Castro was reelected president with 100% of legislative vote.
Raul Castro was elected vice president with 100% of legislative vote.
Now that Fidel is dying, his brother has inherited the presidency.

Last election under terms of constitutional amendment that changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote was held on 7 September 2005.
The election results: Hosni Mubarak was reelected president with 88.6% of votes, Ayman Nour 7.6%, Noman Gomaa 2.9%.
Ayman Nour is in prison today!

Mubarak is now preparing his son Gamal Mubarak to inherit the presidency from him. I am now accepting bets for those who want to speculate on who is going to be the next Egyptian President.

The election of the president is done by popular referendum for a seven-year term (no term limits). Last referendum was held on 27 May 2007, and the results were: Bashar al-Asad won as president with 97.6% of votes. I would love to know who is the braveheart who ran against the incumbent pseudo monarch and won the 2.4% of votes.
Bashar Al-Asad inherited the presidency from his father Hafez Al-Asad. This was made possible thanks to a controversial constitutional amendment to the age of the president that allowed Bashar to assume the presidency.

Libya – You are going to love this one
National elections are held indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees; head of government is elected by the General People's Congress;
Last election was held in March 2006
election results: NA

Saif El-Eslam Ghadafi is widely believed to be the successor of his father Muammar to head the government. I am also accepting bets for those who would like to speculate on who is going to be the next Libyan head of government.

In view of the above, I am at a loss. What shall I call these regimes. They are neither republics nor monarchies. How about I create a new model for this new breed of imposters that I call “RoPublics”; where "Ro" stands for rogue and royal. A Ropublic would then be defined as a royal republic marked by a schizophrenic system of government where everyone pretends that the ruler is a president while in reality everyone knows that he is an imposter acting as a monarch. Presidential elections are held to enforce this state of denial and to reinforce that the people are crazy and that their fears of having their republic turn into a de facto monarchy are nothing but hallucinations.


Mohanned said...

Different labels, same sh!t ;)

Tallouza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallouza said...

Mohanned...I am now watching a show on Al-Arabiya on whether Arabs are schizophrenics in their thinking and behaviors or not. Whether they have double standards or not? What do you think :-)

Mohanned said...

Is some parts of the world(Not far from where you are sitting)it became part of the culture, so they no longer consider it to be shameful(i.e. it is business as usual)..
stated differently: Elli esta7o matoo..

But you know sometimes I don't blame the people, because their behaviors are a result of necessity, if they are not schizophrenics and hypocrites they won't survive, but again it is a vicious cycle, right?

Tallouza said...

It is a question of whether the end justifies the means or not. We have inadvertently endorsed various bad behaviors under the pretext that they are white lies and signs of showing respect. If some people get offended by something you do (that is not offensive) simply because of a belief that they have, does this give them the right to criticize you or to stop you from doing it? Or does this justify being a hypocrite simply so that the feelings of some are not hurt? I personally have a very hard time coming up with a realistic honest answer to all of this.

Mohanned said...

Now we are entering the objective Vs. Subjecive world;the objective world is utopia.

Everything we do is subjective; humans view the objective world through lenses that represent underlying assumption about the reality, and the result is different interpretations.

Conclusion: Pure objectivity doesn't exist.

Tallouza said...

Mohanned, talk of objectivity reminds me of a scene in Ayn Rand's Fountainhead when Howard Roark goes on trial. In case you don't know it, check it out. It is powerful and I am sure you will enjoy it.