Why elections don’t always mean democracy

He is Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s puppet panjandrum who oversaw the savage suppression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. The farce of democracy couldn’t be more complete.

Published: 05th June 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2022 04:12 PM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes

John Lee has irony in common with Bruce Lee. Decades after his passing, Bruce remains a Chinese martial arts icon while John is the emblem of Chinese military arts in Hong Kong where democracy is as dead as Bruce. John is HK’s newly elected Chief Executive and, not surprisingly, the only candidate in the election he just won. He is Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s puppet panjandrum who oversaw the savage suppression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. The farce of democracy couldn’t be more complete.

Meanwhile, for China’s neighbour Russia, and its dictator ‘Vlad the Mad’ Putin, the invasion of Ukraine isn’t going too well. Sure, Russia has elections, like Hong Kong. But elections don’t necessarily mean democracy. This is the age of global polarisation, and it is democracy, the gilded cathedral of Western liberal worship which is facing a sharp perception divide. The annual Democracy Perception Index, covering 52 countries and held after the invasion of Ukraine, reflected a sharp divide in democracies which could redefine the legitimacy of power in the developing world.

Europe’s democracies view Russia negatively. Many Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Latin American countries don’t. Out of 31 countries that supported cutting economic ties with Moscow, 20 were European. China, Indonesia, Egypt, Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have given Putin’s Russia the thumbs up. Significantly almost all countries supporting Russia aren’t democracies, or are but in name. They have absolute leaders who are in loco parentis to their citizens. And they were all Western colonies until the 20th century. The difference is that the Western peoples fought long and hard to enjoy their democratic rights while decolonised nations like India fought for their freedom.

New nations have developed their own democratic grammar, and are rewriting their pasts to suit the present narrative as dictated by their leaders. Pakistan plays down its part in the freedom struggle because its claims as a nation with its own past will be busted. Nationalist India is denying its feudal and sectarian contradictions to claim Vishwa Guru credentials that go back to the Vedas, and in the process, is erasing parts of its own history. Mao Zedong through mass murder wiped out an entire part of Chinese culture and history. Asian democracies, tired of the corruption, sleaze and ideological drift of their original leaders, want stability of identity over economic ease.

They are called upon to sacrifice their personal needs for national and cultural glory, much of which are fabricated such as Pakistan’s claim to the Indus Valley Civilisation. They feel secure under the stewardship of strongmen like Narendra Modi who they trust to make their decisions for them—all they have to do is vote. The virtue-less paradox is that the same democracies of Europe that perceive Russia negatively—Germany, France, Spain, Scandinavia—not too long ago willingly supported democratically elected Nazi Germany and enthusiastically participated in sending millions of Jews to concentration camps where they were murdered.

History is a joke played upon mankind by the gods of evolution. In its flawed record, democracy is the only shining marker, ironically midwifed by tyrants. For now, it is the democratic US and Europe which are the world’s military, economic and cultural powerhouses, with China nipping at their heels. The people have spoken, but the words are unclear about the outright nature of democracy. Perhaps, there isn’t one.



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