Elections are in the air and yielding results pleasing, and displeasing, everywhere

– witnesses identified; hearings begin tomorrow

FROM the exclusively-selective elections in the UK that changed three prime ministers in less months, to the exquisitely-divisive Brazil poll that revealed how deep the divisions are in the largest and most-populous South American and Caribbean nation, the past month has seen a succession of national polls that unveiled countless visible and invisible facets of how electoral democracy is practised differently across the world.

The world has seen how national ballots can be legally bypassed, parliamentarians can simply decide to pull the plug on the democratic process by not doing what they were elected to; and no matter who’s the rider, after the ‘first past the post’ winner is announced, the post-election horse-trading is who gets the prize – and with no second place.

Take the following:

The Iraqi, Lebanese and Northern Ireland parliaments are in logjams because the main parties cannot or refuse to find ways and means to agree and disagree, far less to agree to disagree; and General Elections are again on the cards in each case, with little chance that just another vote will resolve the issues causing the crises.

In Pakistan, ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan has started a seven-day Long March on the capital to press for fresh general elections after he was ousted through a parliamentary No Confidence Motion that he insists was part of an external plot. He’s put all on the line, taking-on the all-powerful and politically-sacrosanct military alongside the current administration and insisting he’ll lead his long line of supporters from across the nation into Islamabad, where the government insists they won’t be allowed to enter.

Norway held a general national poll on Tuesday that did not result in regime change, as wrongly predicted by many pollsters.

Israel held its election on Monday as well, with the results pointing to the possibility of a return to office by veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ousted less than two years ago after 12 long years in office, in Israel’s fifth election in less than four years.

But apart from the respective royal and constitutional successions and successive regime changes at Buckingham Palace and Downing Street in London, the focus of world attention was definitely on the Brazil election on the last day of last month, where the choices of voters were treated like between yesterday and tomorrow, day and night.

Where the press focused in all the elections earlier mentioned was on the salacious sauciness of parliaments rendered dysfunctional by the actions of members elected to serve constituencies and nations, the focus in Brazil was squarely on the two presidential candidates — ‘Lula’ da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro – almost head-to-head after the first run-off.

Bolsonaro did better than the press predicted in a vote counted by machines he made it clear he didn’t trust; and, like his friend, ex-US President Donald Trump, he said he would not accept losing — and the only way he would leave the presidential palace would be “by force, or under arrest…”

Lula won, but by the slightest of margins (50.9 per cent to 49.1 per cent), much to the joy of those who prayed for regime change and to the eternal chagrin of those who voted to preserve the status quo.

Some hold that the Brazil poll was ‘a good election to lose’, if only because the nation is divided down-the-middle and the expected unwillingness of either of the contesting political forces and leaders to see eye-to-eye on anything after the poll, respective supporters equally unwilling to give and inch (far less a percentage point) to ‘the other side’.

Lula won promising to free Brazil from international isolation and with high popular hopes he’ll resume the types of pro-working-class policies that saw millions move out of poverty during his first two terms.

But Lula the Victor’s hands are tied.

Even though not in handcuffs, his hands are cuffed by the fact that Bolsonaro has half the support of Brazilians, controls the congress, has military support – and has not acknowledged defeat, silently demonstrating his power by keeping Brazil and the world waiting for 48 hours after the results were announced to deliver a two-minute address in which he neither conceded defeat, nor congratulated Lula.

But Bolsonaro will remain president until January 1, with every indication that while he’s approved the start of transition, he doesn’t plan an exit looking anything like a walk through a flower garden or a park.

Lula built a wide-ranging 10-party winning alliance and keeping it together will be another challenge even between now and January 1, especially in terms of Cabinet appointments.

This week ends with Friday’s mid-term US elections, President Biden and the Democrats facing an uphill battle against ex-President Trump’s lasting influence over the Republican Party as he shapes-up to try to gain the keys to return to the White House in 2024.

Guyana’s Local Government Elections are less than five months away and there’s no strong indication (as yet) it‘ll be anything near an election fight or a ballot box battle, but it’s a national election nonetheless, which results will continue to affect the political balance of forces at community levels and the delivery of gubernatorial goods and services to supporters of all parties.

Local government elections are also supposed to be mid-term yardsticks to measure the ruling party’s popularity vis-à-vis- the opposition, as well as how people feel about the government’s performance halfway-through its term.

March 13, 2023 will be just over halfway since the last official poll, but subtract the five months of post-election rule denied the winners by the losers, it also makes it a national Guyana mid-term poll.

In Westminster-based democracies diluted with lighter version of nationalist input, it’s always the right of parties to decide if to participate in elections – to run, or to cut-and-run.

So it is — and so it will forever be everywhere parties contest elections, including Guyana.

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