Simon Jenkins
April 9, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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The west’s proudest export to the Islamic world this past decade has been democracy. That is, not real democracy, which is too complicated, but elections. They have been exported at the point of a gun and a missile to Iraq and Afghanistan, to “nation-build” these states and hence “defeat terror”. When apologists are challenged to show some good resulting from the shambles, they invariably reply: “It has given Iraqis and Afghans freedom to vote.”

As British electors don democratic finery and troop to the polls next month, elections in both war-torn countries are looking sick. Last month’s poll in Iraq, blessed (or cursed) with a Westminster-style constitution, has failed to yield a coherent government. It appeared to show the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, just beaten by his predecessor, Ayad Allawi. If so, it would be a remarkable case of a developing world democracy actually ejecting a sitting leader. In that respect, Iraq would be ahead of Britain, where the opposition must lead by at least 10 percentage points to be certain of power.

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