Less than free and fair elections

Election fraud in Chad, Jordan, Nigeria, a stifled media in Russia and Tunisia, opposition candidates blocked in Iran, Egypt and Uganda�the list goes on and on. Fraudulent elections now, the problem is most established democracies are increasingly ignoring them. This Human Rights Watch expert says the reasons are purely for self-interest. A good example is Pakistan, often claimed as a key ally in the war on terror. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has fired judges, rewritten the constitution and placed opposition figures under house arrest. Yet leaders in Washington and Europe have done almost nothing. The Human Rights Watch expert also cites the example of if a country has important commercial elements, gas or oil resources, again turning a blind eye. This university from Northwestern University says this has been a trend since the Cold War. The Bush administration particularly has been pushing the importance of democracy abroad and countries want to appear democratic to boost their international stature. The professor says in effect elections have become the surface manifestation of democracy in a country. but elections are just one part of being a democracy, democracy takes time. For example the majority of women and African Americans were disenfranchised throughout US history. This spokesman at the US State Dept. says democracy takes time and evolves in different ways. He said one way to support democracies is through international election monitors. This official of the Carter Center says monitoring is difficult, but contributes to a country in the same way a free and open press does.

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