2003 June 06 Friday
Mark Steyn On Arab Democracy In Jordan And Iraq

Visiting Jordan before his tour thru Iraq Mark Steyn found tribal and family loyalties played a big role in Jordanian elections.

In Jordan, the electoral districting is weighted towards the rural areas, and the local newspapers carry ads announcing the various tribes’ and families’ candidates. Because they’re running tribally, they avoid taking a stand on contentious matters, such as the recent court decision giving an Amman plumber one year in jail for the ‘honour crime’ of strangling his sister. In fact, they avoid taking a stand even on uncontentious matters. Their platform is to eschew platforms. These men will provide the bulk of the government’s support in parliament, and having a coherent political philosophy will only get in the way.

Steyn argues that democracy should start in Iraq at the municipal level first in order to give Iraqis experience with democracy at a level closer to the people. He even argues for regional parliaments to precede a national elected government. All of this seems wise. However, as long as the practice of cousin marriage keeps the rate of consanguinity high in the Middle East democracy will not be able to flourish there. I wonder whether Mark as a conservative would consider placing some limits on his support for strong family ties. Also, how long does he think it will take for democracy in Arab countries to start to work as well as it does in Turkey? Count me in the ranks of the pessimists on prospects for successful Arab democracy.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 06 03:13 AM  Civilizations Clash Of


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