A Guy’s View: Political turmoil worldwide

Kenya held presidential elections on August 8, 2017. A number of international observers oversaw the vote and gave it a clean bill of health. However, the Supreme Court later ruled that the election was not free and fair and annulled it.

President Uhuru Kenyatta won the August 8 poll. He described the decision of the Supreme Court as a coup. Given the fact that he had received the majority of the votes cast in an election that independent observers with no political axe to grind declared legitimate, he felt that he had been robbed of the election victory.

The Supreme Court’s decision made persons afraid of what might happen next. Fortunately, the President diffused the situation by deciding to accept the court’s ruling. It is a mark of political maturity when, in a traditionally unstable country, a leader is willing to criticise a ruling of the court, but respect the constitutional authority of the judiciary and abide by that ruling nonetheless.

The obvious next step would be to hold another election. Although he felt aggrieved, the President set a date for a re-run. The chosen date was October 26, 2017. Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, almost immediately declared that he was boycotting the second poll.

Unfortunately, Mr. Odinga’s approach smacks of the distasteful strategy that has become popular among too many persons in opposition politics. Once it becomes clear that their circle of supporters will not gain them national victory, they find everything wrong with the legitimate process. Mr. Odinga would have known that given the social and political history of his country, his stance on not participating in the second poll and calling on his supporters to stay away would create instability in the country. But for some people, it is either them or no one. They are quite happy to provoke their unthinking followers to destroy the country rather than accept the will of the majority.

In Spain, there is political strife of a different complexion. There, one part of the country held a vote and decided to secede from the rest of the country.

Barbadian football fans know of the great battles in that sport that take place between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Little thought may be given to the great divide that has long existed between the two regions represented by those teams.

Barcelona is based in Catalonia, a section of Spain that has been disquieted by calls for independence from the rest of Spain. Catalonia had substantially self-governing status, including its own parliament. The Catalonian leader held a referendum and won overwhelming support for his call to separate from Spain. This prompted a strong response from the Spanish central Government.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, decided to pull the plug on Catalonia’s independence drive by removing the authority of the Catalonia Government and imposing direct rule from Madrid, the seat of central power. In addition to dissolving parliament, he called for new elections in that area. The date set is December 21, 2017.

Spain is made up of a number of autonomous regions, of which Catalonia is one. This region has a population of 7.52 million people and accounts for about one fifth of the Spanish economy. Spain’s economy is the fourth largest in the Euro-zone. Clearly, Catalonia is a significant space.

Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence leaves it as a declared independent country, but without power and without any recognition outside of its borders. Its neighbours in Europe are really the only ones who matter, and they have either declared that they will not recognise it as a state or have not yet spoken on the issue. One suspects that the position expressed by Britain of wishing to see Spanish unity maintained is the prevailing view even among those who have not yet spoken.

When the English people voted to leave the European Union, fears were expressed that this would be the start of a trend. Although Catalan independence is not grounded in a desire to separate from the European Common Market, any fracture in European unity is a threat to the survival of their political union.

Catalonia’s declaration of independence is a representation of a long held European fear. Their political union can only work if the people of the member states are willing to accept rule from outside of their borders, which may not always seem to reflect their parochial interests. Independent thinkers are never good for easy rule.

Asia is not only always at war, but political strife is always at play. To take one country from that vast region, Turkey would be good example. This country has a secular Government and has for some time been thought to be under consideration for membership of the European Union. This, however, is a thought that may never become reality. The European Union is as much an ethnic and religious union as it is a political union, hence, Turkey may jump through hoops, but never qualify for membership.

On July 16, 2016, members of the armed forces attempted to overthrow the Turkish Government. Their attempt to seize a number of key institutions failed because the majority of the armed forces remained loyal to the Government and defeated them. Among the reasons given for the attempted coup were the decline of democracy and the disregard of human rights by the state. Their solution to these issues was interesting – disregard the country’s democratic institutions and seize power by force.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed a Turk living in exile in Pennsylvania, United States, for being the influence behind the coup attempt. Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish businessman referred to, denied any involvement and claimed that the Turkish government staged the coup against itself.

Wars, rumours of war and political disquiet are now normal features of the world we experience in some way every day. Some of us are so comfortable that we have no appreciation of how persons in search of power are willing to manipulate others to achieve their ends. The power needs of people who believe themselves to be entitled or who have some other lustful motivation for power have made the world a dangerous place. Such people have driven peace from the face of the earth.

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