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Elections… Elections… How Should We decide?

Elections… Elections… How Should We decide?

Monday, 3 January, 2022 - 10:00

Preparations for the Brazilian elections scheduled for late this year have begun. Brazil’s elections are like no other because the influence the country has on its region is like no other. Its 213 million citizens (the sixth-largest population in the world) and 8.5 million square kilometer surface area (the fifth in the world) share borders with every country in South America except Ecuador and Chile.

On top of that, the next Brazilian elections are unique in several respects:

The government of the current president and candidate for the next elections, Jair Bolsonaro, suddenly invigorated its social spending in an attempt to win votes, especially from the poorest segments of society. They did so because the economic downturn has decreased support for Bolsonaro and his policies to lower than 30 percent, and according to the Economist, Brazil’s GDP contracted over the last two quarters. Additionally, because the coronavirus pandemic was dealt with poorly, the country saw days in which 3,000 patients would die. Bolsonaro was held directly responsible: 143 petitions until now calling for him to be deposed have been launched.

However, Bolsonaro’s competitor, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or just Lula, also suffers from weak support. His party is accused of a major corruption scandal and is blamed for massive recession when it was in power.

Bolsonaro’s removal from power is undoubtedly a requisite for any hope and reform, but Lula replacing him might not inspire hope and reform either.

On November 21, presidential elections were held in Chile in the far south of South America. The young leftist candidate, Gabriel Boric, defeated Christian far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast by a wide margin: 55 to 44 percent. Kast had to be defeated: the son of a Nazi officer who fled to Chile, he shares Bolsonaro’s populism, racism, neoliberalism, denial of the existence of a climate problem, and bigoted positions on social, sexual and cultural issues. On top of that, he is a staunch supporter of Augusto Pinochet and his military dictatorship and, ala Donald Trump, has raised the slogan “make Chile great again.”

If the “right-winger” is the “bad guy” in Chile, then “left-wing” Daniel Ortega is the bad guy in Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. The elections held on November 7 were unbelievably bizarre: paving the way to hold them on his terms, president/candidate Ortega arrested most of his potential rivals, with some of them fleeing the country for fear of detention. The vice-presidential candidate on the opposing ticket was placed under house arrest and banned from running. The Citizens for Freedom party’s presidential candidate had his civil rights suspended. Several journalists were arrested.

Thus, it was only “natural” that Ortega received 76 percent of the vote in his race against Walter Espinoza, who was allowed to run and given 14 percent.

A reminder: Ortega has been Nicaragua’s president since 2007, and he had previously ruled the country and been its president between 1979 and 1990. His vice-president, Rosario María Murillo Zambrana, is also his wife.

It is self-evident that the voter, any voter in any country, is biased in favor of one candidate over the others and one program over the others. This is what elections are all about. However, in countries that have democratized recently, whose adoption of democracy came late, or whose democracy has been or is vulnerable to being obstructed and hindered, another consideration besides one’s proclivities must be taken into account: who would consolidate democratic stability and genuinely believes in disputes being settled politically? Who would comply with the constitution to a greater extent, better accept the limits of their electoral mandate, be more committed to the principle of the transition of power, and more worthy of being entrusted with the state’s finances, etc...?

The person who better fits these criteria could be “left-wing” or “right-wing,” but their fitting this criteria is no less important than their ideological leanings. Furthermore, candidates inevitably moderate and water down their ideological wine after becoming presidents, if those characteristics apply to them at all. That is how they become leaders to all people and the entire nation instead of leaders of the segments of society that they come from and that share their beliefs.

In mind as all of this is said is the way in which the Arab axis of resistance has been celebrating what it assumes to be its candidates’ victories. Boric and Ortega, as they put it, “crushed” their rivals, and Lula will “crush” his rival; capitalism here and imperialism there be damned. In fact, elections are there to ensure that no one is crushed by anyone else. Instead of being political wars that are held to avert military wars, elections become nothing more than a belligerent vengeful process that paves the way for other wars and tit-for-tat attacks, creating a vicious cycle of open and constant conflict. That is to say that politics, in this case, can only be judged by the standards of war because those making the judgements hate politics and crave only war.

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