Thursday, March 25, 2010

Great taste, less democratic

Voting in an atmosphere of less violence and more participation sounds good.  But not necessarily.  Colombia's Misión de Observación Electoral argues that in the western Valle department these elements demonstrate the strength of narcotraffickers.  There was a huge surge of registered voters, and they voted for the Partido de Integración Nacional (PIN), which is the new party tied to former members of Congress jailed for connections to paramilitaries.  The MOE's conclusion is that the campaigns are largely being funded by narcotraffickers and that at least in Valle the results are illegitimate.

Laura Carlsen notes similar problems, particularly vote buying and the strength of paramilitary groups:

There is a certain fetishism of the ballot box when it comes to defining democracy. In Colombia, huge numbers of citizens don’t vote because the candidates provoke nausea or indifference, can’t vote because either the government erased their names from the roster or paramilitary forces have ordered them to stay home, or only vote as a matter of survival or intimidation.

As Steven Taylor has noted in his book, Colombia is an electoral democracy but not a liberal one.  What the MOE's report shows is that we need to be careful even about how to measure "progress."  Sometimes a lack of violence just means that everyone is too intimidated to resist at all.

2 comments:

Vicente Duque 12:13 PM  

Good Article Mr Weeks :

The World is becoming a Global Village. We are very interdependent. No country is an Extraterrestrial Galaxy one million light years away from other countries.

It is very positive that all these organizations go into Colombia to observe elections and other developments. They are indeed more independent from Governments.

Everything that happens in another country has an impact on us.

Now, more than ever we need this intellectual kind intervention and opinions.

As far as I know the USA is exporting more billions of dollars to Latin America than to Europe.

And Colombia is in the barycenter of Latin America, that is the physical center of mass, or center of gravity. With two oceans and many harbors, that should mean something to other nations, and it is close to Panama.

Colombia has a Great NEGATIVE importance for the USA ... Let me explain, if Colombia ever falls under the boot or a Military Demagogic despot like Hugo Chavez, then the consequences would be very hard for Western Hemisphere stability.

Hugo Chavez satisfies perfectly the definition of Leftist Dictator, enemy of the free press and private capital, private initiative and the rights of property.

Imagine that for Colombia. So all nations have an interest in protecting the weak flame of Colombian Democracy and Liberties, like free expression and freedom of the press.

Thanks for your work and editorial work.

The Future of Foreign Policies :

Prophesizing.com

Vicente Duque

Steven Taylor 9:58 PM  

One interesting observation made to me by the director of the MOE while I was in Bogota is that there is actually more attention being paid to the some of serious problems with the elections (e.g., vote buying) this cycle more than in the past because the violence was lower and therefore not commanding everyone's attention.

Indeed, in the past she noted that when she tried to point out serious electoral problems, other people would only want to talk about the violence.

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