Monday, November 28, 2011

The power of the vote

Egyptians have an opportunity today to select a parliament that could lead the country forward. And the New York Times reports that in the early hours of voting, people were showing up in large numbers to vote.
By 9 a.m., voters had formed long and peaceful lines under the watchful eyes of a heavy police and army guard to cast votes in rich and poor neighborhoods across Cairo. In several places, lines stretched as long as a block along the banks of the Nile, and there were similar reports from Alexandria and Port Said.
In Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s democracy struggle, several thousand protesters maintained their 10-day occupation to press demands for the immediate end to military rule. But that did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm shown by some Egyptians for the vote.
At several polling stations around Cairo, voters reported frustrating delays of up to four hours because ballots or voter lists or even the supervising judges had not arrived on time, and a news report said soldiers fired in the air in at least one of the capital’s slums to disperse an angry crowd trying to reach a polling station.
For all that, Egyptians displayed little of the pride and exultation that Tunisians described as they went to the polls for the first vote of the Arab Spring just one month ago. Instead, voters in Egypt talked of duty and defiance, of a determination to exercise the rights they believed their revolution had earned them even though few expressed much confidence in the integrity of the vote count.
TIME magazine takes a look at what's at stake in this election.

While Egypt moves forward, Syrian leaders appeared committed to standing still. And in this year of the popularly labelled "Arab Spring", that's not good enough. The New York Times explains why.
The Arab League deepened Syria’s international isolation on Sunday by imposing a battery of economic sanctions meant to sever most trade and investment from the Arab world, an unprecedented step against a member state. 
The tough measures, aimed at stopping Syria’s bloody crackdown on dissidents, constitute another blow to the Syrian economy, already reeling from sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States.
They were a psychological jab as much as an economic one, further eroding Syria’s longstanding claim to be the heart of Arabism, a claim already battered by the country’s suspension from the league two weeks ago.
Regime change will come to Syria; one can hope it will not be through significant bloodshed. 

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