Members of our political class believe in elections as peasants believe in saintly relics, though with rather less reason. Perhaps they cannot believe that a method that brought them to the top of the national pile, to fame and fortune, is not of universal human application, nor is it the solution to all human problems.
I thought this when I read the following words in a French newspaper recently:
The only way to get out of this mess is to have elections and see
how much each faction weighs in the ballot-box…
The mess referred to was Mali, where two French journalists had just been kidnapped and killed after they had interviewed the leader of one of the factions.
Have I missed something, or is it not the case that Mali has just had elections that the whole world judged free and fair? These elections followed hard upon the French military intervention to displace the Islamists in the north of the country who were threatening to overthrow the putschists who had just overthrown the president – who had been elected in free and fair elections, the only such elections until then ever held in Mali, but who unfortunately turned out to be a corrupt scoundrel – as, of course, would all his opponents have done if they had won the free and fair elections in his place.
It is also worth remarking, perhaps, that the situation in Mali deteriorated rapidly after the overthrow by France and Britain of Colonel Gaddafi in the name of – among other things – free and fair elections. As we know, the people of Libya, especially those interested in politics, are deeply impregnated with the notion of fair play, including that of being a good loser and accepting defeat gracefully. No wonder, then, that the heavily-armed Tuareg mercenaries of the late Colonel, of Malian origin, decided to return home and try the skills there that they learnt in pre-democratic Libya.
Yes, the only way out of this mess is free and fair elections. They are both necessary and sufficient. True, part of the problem is that the political class of the Tuareg northerners does not wish to be ruled by the political class of the black African southerners, but surely a visit to Lord’s Cricket Ground would convince them to accept the verdict of the ballot-box. Would they not immediately be convinced by the words of the sculpted tableau on its wall?
Play up, play up, and play the game!