Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ELECTIONS - April 24, 2008

The defiance by Mugabe of the actual election results in Zimbabwe brings up the question of the ability of established power to falsify the outcome of any election unless the most scrupulous care is taken to keep them clean. And where there is any cause to believe otherwise, the burden is always assumed to be on the challengers to prove their case against the presumption of regularity. This presumption represents a flaw in the theory of democratic rule via elections. If the established power has control of the machinery of government, then they can often hide the traces of their machinations, if any, of the machinery of elections as well. That is an almost inescapable consequence of the meaning of government. However, there should be, and is not, an explicit and general understanding that wherever the process of election is not totally transparent, the presumption of regularity must be reversed, and the world opinion must stand against the owner of the election process. That rule would not negate the great advantage the sitting government has, but in view of that, it should be a recognized canon of rhetoric that any government that claims re-election in any process that is not exquisitely transparent and proper must have the case presumed against the incumbents unless they can prove their innocence under that burden. Such a rule should have been the verdict of the world in Mexico in 2005, in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio in 2004. It would not prevail against armed force, but nothing would. Meanwhile, it should be agreed that where the sitting government does not provide that transparency, they lose all legitimacy. How to promote this idea?

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