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Al Bawaba

The following are three political incidents/developments from two matured bourgeois democracies.

Alleged bribe

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, is not shameful for all the election bribery he allegedly accepted gladly from a foreign “friend”, who was murdered later, and in this murder ploy, the French leader was an aggressive participant. A stark show of bourgeois politics with “friendship”!

The interventionist is now charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The banner bearer of “humanitarian” intervention was placed under judicial supervision for his electoral act.

Sarkozy is indicted on charges of passive bribery, illegal financing of election campaign, concealment and misappropriation of Libyan public funds. It is alleged that funds from Gaddafi were funnelled to Sarkozy’s presidential campaign. The alleged bribe, at least €50 million (US $68.5 million), violated legislation on foreign funding.

It is not the first time that the “noble” French leader has been indicted. Billionaire Liliane Bettencourt allegedly made illegal payments to government officials close to Sarkozy. Years ago, Sarkozy used to maintain a warm relationship with Gaddafi. It was a “warm friendship” leading to a “game” named “Kill thou friend”.  

Sarkozy came to the realisation that a living Gaddafi was dangerous to the French leader’s political future, as Gaddafi knew the deal best. So, the French leader jumped into the interventionist bandwagon powered from the other side of the Atlantic to overthrow Gaddafi. The “humanitarian” adventure ultimately murdered Gaddafi.  And, it was a French missile that hit Gaddafi’s armoured vehicle, followed by “catching” and murdering of Gaddafi. All these “noble” acts were organised and carried out about six and half years ago.

Sarkozy was detained for two days on 20 March 2018 over the bribery case. Stories surfaced in 2011 that Gaddafi helped Sarkozy to assume the French presidency. In 2012, the French independent online investigative magazine Mediapart published documents allegedly signed by Gaddafi’s intelligence chief Moussa Muhammad Koussa.

Ziad Takieddine, a Franco-Lebanese businessperson, revealed in 2016 that he had personally transferred €5 million (US $6.3 million) in cash from Gaddafi’s brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi to Sarkozy’s former chief of staff Claude Gueant. Takieddine claimed that he had made three trips from Tripoli to Paris between late 2006 and early 2007, each time delivering suitcases with €1.5 to 2 million ($1.84 to $2.45 million) in those suitcases, in €200 and €500 banknotes. Sarkozy rented a safe in a French bank during his presidential race. It is also claimed that the French banking system failed to track the transfer of money. Amazing arrangements all these are! And, the banking system is so efficient!

Other businesspersons and little known art collector are also involved in the cash for election web. How much the ordinary person knows about these who and what: who are the businesspersons and the art collector, from where they suddenly emerge, and so many what, what, what, and how they suddenly turn into patron of this and that?

The bribe story includes incident of murder of a former Libyan minister, and an assassination attempted on an associate of Gaddafi.

Judge orders election

In the US, on 22 March 2018, a Wisconsin judge ordered Governor Scott Walker (Republican) to call the special elections for two legislative seats that he was refusing to call since December 2017. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Josann Reynolds ordered to call the elections within a week.

Democrats sued Walker as he was refusing to schedule quick elections. Democrats claimed Walker would not do so because he was afraid of losing the contests to Democrats.

The governor was consulting with the state’s attorneys to “determine the next steps.”

The dispute involves two seats that became vacant in December 2017 as the Republican incumbents resigned to take jobs in Walker’s administration. Walker said he would not hold a special election for the open seats, but would instead allow them to be filled by the regularly scheduled elections in November 2018. The winners of those elections would not be seated until January 2019.

Walker insisted that he had no legal obligation to call the special election sooner and that he was saving the state money by not doing so. But, Democrats argued that his decision was motivated by the fact that Republicans lost a special election this January in a Wisconsin district that president Trump had carried in 2016.

Wisconsin law says that a special election must be held as promptly as possible for any vacancy in the state legislature that occurs before the second Tuesday in May in a regularly scheduled election year. Walker’s team contended that he was not obligated to call a special election because the vacancies occurred in 2017, not the regularly scheduled election year of 2018.

Judge Reynolds accused state Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office of reading the law in an absurd way and not following “basic rules of grammar.” She also accused his office of being hypocritical in advocating generally for a strict reading of laws while interpreting the relevant statute in this case in a way that undermined “the most basic constitutional guarantee.”

The judge alluded to the fact that Walker’s decision had left 175,000 people without a voice in the state legislature.

The lawsuit challenging the governor’s lack of action was brought by the National Redistricting Foundation, an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

“One of our most basic rights as American citizens is that we get to vote and have representation in our legislatures. Governor Walker’s actions have undermined that right,” Holder said in a statement following the judge’s order.

Attorney Elisabeth Frost says it is a “textbook” case of voter disenfranchisement. Two voters testified that they are upset and insulted, as they do not have representatives.

But, Assistant Attorney General Steve Kilpatrick argues that, “while it is unfortunate voters do not have representatives, the damage they are suffering does not meet the legal standard needed to force Walker to call elections.”

No Kremlin collusion: House Intelligence Committee

The US House Intelligence Committee has voted to formally end its Russia probe. Lawmakers found no evidence of collusion between associates of president Donald Trump and Russia. The committee also voted to release the report, which was authored by Republicans.

The report recommends introduction of “mandatory polygraphs” for officials who have top-secret security clearance. It also accuses former Obama administration intelligence director James Clapper of providing “inconsistent testimony” regarding his contacts with the media.

In a summary of its findings, the committee concluded that there was “no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and the Kremlin.”

The committee spoke to more than 70 witnesses, heard from many prominent Trump administration figures, and reviewed more than 300,000 documents.

The indication

These three political developments don’t constitute the whole. However, these, different in type (bribe, disenfranchisement/lack in representation, and collusion/tricks), indicate a part of politics that dominates bourgeois democracies.

On the first two incidents, the following are brief comments:

Bribe in electoral process (1) is a symptom of degeneration of a political system; (2) is a practice to disenfranchise voters; (3) hinders citizens’ scope for using their sense of judgment. The case takes serious turn when (1) a bribe comes from external source, and (2) an incident of bribe involves senior political leadership. In this case, the external source is a country comparatively “backward” and less powerful than the advanced bourgeois country. Moreover, the bribing is a sort of interference; and the interference was done by a less powerful country, and in an imperialist country, which is opposite to usual imperialist practice. Is it a reflection of the state of politics in at least one, actually it is not a single case, imperialist country? [Similar cases of bribery in guise of “contribution”/“donation” to “charity” are already exposed in at least another imperialist country.]       

Requirement of a court’s ruling to ensure citizens’ representation signifies disjoint in the political system or dearth in democracy, which is democracy of the bourgeoisie. Is it that bourgeois democracy is struggling to retain its cloak of class neutrality? If it struggles, what is (are) the reason(s)?           

The third case, election interference, gives rise to a few questions:

(1) What shall ultimately happen to democracy if an external power can manipulate the matured and powerful democracy’s electoral outcome as is being claimed by a group of politicians? This question carries many other questions, which need not to be mentioned here as readers are acquainted with those.

(2) What happens in other countries when matured democracies interfere overtly and covertly in electoral process in those countries? This question also needs no explanation, as a lot of information related to that is known to readers.

A few pertinent issues should be focused on briefly:

After so many years, these democracies are going through primary problems of electoral distortion. Then, is it justified to expect that the working classes shall be able to organise a perfect and flawless democratic system immediately after the classes seize political power? Should that expectation be considered rational, logical, or fair? Should not scholars with profound knowledge of politics and history, with the courage of intellectual honesty, and with a sharp sense to denounce shortcomings of the political systems the working classes organise present an answer?

These scholars are fully aware of the differences in areas of experience, skills and resources the two hostile classes hold. These scholars are able to count the number of years the bourgeoisie spent organising their political system, and the number of years the working classes had to organise theirs.

Scholars, with all their knowledge and honesty, evaluate performance of the two opposing classes, the exploiters and the exploited, with the same lens. A few of them are slightly harsher in the case of the working classes. It is these scholars’ sense of judgment! From the working classes, the scholars demand everything in “perfect condition” from the very beginning. They are silent on these questions while they compare political performance and political systems of the two opposing classes. Consequently, are these scholars not praising the bourgeois political system with their silence? If it the case, should not the working people say: Tempus abire tibi est, it is time for you to go away?

Another aspect should also be mentioned here, which is the big bunch, i.e. the states in the global South faithfully following imperialist masters. What about the state of political system in that bunch? Many of these states have been “independent” for more than 70 years; the length of time the Soviet Union existed with all its flaws and failures. What is the state of electoral systems, external and internal manipulation and interference, transparency, accountability, dependence in this bunch of capitalist democracies? And, is not this bunch of countries being ruled by the younger brothers of the bourgeoisie in the matured bourgeois democracies? And, many in the bunch were not they pumped with billions of dollars, expertise, patronisation, and favourable market condition for decades for their “development” of everything, from agriculture to industry to education to legislation and judiciary by the bourgeois democracies?

Under the guise of “strengthening democracy and electoral systems”, millions and millions of dollars have been pumped and external expertise in many sorts of fields including communication, propaganda and espionage were mobilised by the bourgeois democracies into this bunch. What happens to this bunch in the global South when the matured bourgeois democracies, the elite group, experience the incidents cited above? And there are hundreds of such types of examples in these matured democracies that can be cited. Should we not find it imperative to raise important questions and learn critical lessons?


* Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

* Information cited in this article, part of a study, is from the mainstream news sources.