Political Democracy is Not Enough to Generate Arab Development

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The relationship of a national authority to citizenry has been the subject of agelong arguments and indeterminate discourse. Most political theorists and analysts have unremittingly debated whether social order should be maintained by constraint or consent. And, what are the best political formation and governance pattern by which people should be guided and governed? Should it be a socialistic system or faith-based structure? Should it be a monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, or a democracy?

Patently, the present general preference of most societies leans toward having a democratic political system through which citizens can take part in the development and leading process of the country. This is mainly because a real democratic system seems to solve and placate most national political and social contentions. Taking into consideration that, a true democracy has to include several political must-haves, such as freedom of speech and expression, the right to form political parties, the right to stand for office, and have recurring free elections. Actually, these constitutional means to change or renew the mandate of the leadership of the country not only to enable the system to contain disagreements and discontents but to allow the political leadership to correct its path and practice.

At its origin, democracy was an assembly to freely discuss political and socioeconomic issues of a society, and institute the necessary laws, accordingly. With time, the concept of democracy flourished to become the core of most political systems of Western countries. Actually, democracy did not gain its broad momentum until the crash of communism and downslope of socialism at which it turned into a universal form and order that enable societies and nations to develop and live peacefully. Nonetheless, in many advanced democracies, the issue of whether democratic methods should render greater social and economic equality, such as equal benefiting from national wealth, providing gratis education, and free public healthcare, to the population or not, remains a subject of intense political controversy.

In the developing world and Arab world, in particular, democracy is conceived as a political label attached solely to the application of free multiparty elections through which parliamentary representatives, governments, and presidents are selected. To most of them, the prevailing current notion of democratic governance is rather of political practice than being deep-seated in the electoral laws, judicial structure and socioeconomic policies of the state. Disregarding that the social and economic and conditions of any country, democratic or not, are the most decisive factors in creating public contentment thus and so stability and progress.

In that respect, though several Arab revolts, like in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya, succeeded to overthrow their authoritarian regimes upon which they now have freely elected parliaments and governments. Yet, there are no signals or strong leads to assume that those newly instated authorities are willing to address the chronic socio-economic problems of their countries soon.

On the political theater, the unfortunate result is that these newly instituted governments and parliaments did not nominate yet the suitable political settings and democratic model they would consider to reunite the ethnic and religious fabrics of their states—let alone the question of power sharing of minorities. Last, but not least, what are the strategies and levels of commitment of these new authorities to firmly effectuate the internationally acknowledged human rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, and other corresponding issues?

While, on the socioeconomic level, Arab Spring governments did not declare so far any economic strategies, plans or even dispositions of how they would revitalize the economy, combat unemployment, and reduce poverty; for instance. Similarly, they did not specify the outline of their public welfare orientations, such as social security benefits, public education, healthcare, and pension; for example, they plan to underwrite to improve the severe socioeconomic conditions of their citizens.

In all likelihood, political democracy in itself is not enough to bring forth security, development, and prosperity to the Arab world. At bottom, the incontrovertible reality is that political democracy, economic and social reforms have to be established in quick succession; otherwise, these hastily installed Arab governments will be challenged and unhorsed before long.

The mainstream concern nowadays is whether post-revolution governments have the will and fortitude to deliver real reform and development to their troubled societies, or they will just wear and tear the Arab Spring movements to maintain power.

It is reasonable to remind Arab ruling cliques,  in control and newly installed alike, and economic elites that the Arab revolts were originally aroused to eliminate poverty and terminate debasement. Arab people took the streets calling for democracy and justice to embody their urgent need to regain self-worth and well-being.

To all intents, hundreds of millions of Arabs deserve to live in the twenty-one century without any surrealistic ideology and demagogic policy. Arab Spring’s parliaments, governments, and presidents should keep in mind that the Arab uprisings were not stirred up just to replace some tyrants with hesitant party-spirited personas. In fact, the Arab masses were looking for a broad change of the governing system so that they can have decisive reformers and social liberators who can stir the wheels of the country toward modernization and prosperity.

If not, we will witness ARAB SPRING II, or, alas, a return to dictatorship.

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