Sunday, May 20, 2012

Institutional Authenticity in Egypt’s Election

Observers seem to agree that Egypt’s upcoming election has an air of authenticity about it. Few would dare to predict the winner, but it seems safe to say that there will be a real election. It is a sign of the value of institutional authenticity, something American political observers in recent years have often overlooked.

The interim government in Egypt seems determined to have, above all else, a procedurally correct election. That, in turn, encourages participation, giving voters some reason to hope that their vote will count for something. It boosts the reputation of democracy in Egypt.

In the United States there has not been a procedurally correct presidential election in ages. It will not happen this year either, with effectively anonymous international business corporations dominating the political spending. This kind of compromised institutional presence discredits the electoral process and discourages participation, with the likely result that the winning candidate will be selected by the votes of only one fifth of the people in the country. U.S. voter participation will remain low until something changes to give people the hope of participating in a very real and present democratic process.