While I have no illusions about the extent of political pluralism in Syria under the new reforms, does AFP really have to use quotation marks around the word “multiparty” in is latest report on the parliamentary elections? Is the US bipartisan system or Great Britain’s “two-plus” system any more pluralistic? Is there any real difference in strategic vision or ideology between left and right? Are there drastically different domestic and foreign policies even? And if not, then doesn’t that suggest there is no genuine political competition which is the cornerstone of “representative democracies” (regardless of what an oxymoron this term is)? Faced with very similar party agendas, does the western voter really have a genuine CHOICE to make? And if he/she doesn’t have real alternatives to choose from, how can we call that “freedom of choice”?
Isn’t that one of the principal causes of increasingly low voter turnouts in western countries? Isn’t the line that separates voter apathy in the West from the boycotting of elections by the opposition in Syria, really a very fine one between those who are conscious of the system’s lack of legitimacy and those who have lost faith in it without being conscious of the reasons why?
Do anti-system parties even see the light of day in the US and Europe? Do these liberal democracies really tolerate, let alone encourage the growth of parties which seek to subvert liberalism and institute alternative regime-types in its place? Would the American government which enjoys no more popular support than its opposite number in Syria, really allow enemy-funded parties that seek to overthrow it , a place in the political system?
If the Syrian opposition discredits the elections as little more than a “sham” designed to “preserve” Assad ‘s “autocratic rule” as AP, AFP and other mainstream media are reporting, is that really any different from the general purpose of elections in the west which are designed to merely recirculate the same class of capitalist-liberal elites?
Given that this is what two-party and multi-party politics has come to mean, doesn’t that give the Syrian political system every much as right as its western counterparts to call itself a multi-party system minus the quotation marks?