Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy


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This in turn can enhance democratic legitimacy of any post-conflict political arrangement and contribute to the consolidation of peace and democracy, despite varying political viewpoints that may come from home or abroad. At the same time, Antara reminded that it is important to keep in mind the diversity of diasporas which may often be divided along ethnic, tribal or religious lines.

Building trust and cooperation among diaspora communities is a central part of diaspora engagement as well as an initial step to effective diaspora dialogue. In this regard, OCV can play a positive role in fostering cooperation among the various diaspora communities. The possibility to participate in origin country elections through OCV can strengthen their feeling of belonging to the home countries. Albania is an example of a country which is exploring options for introducting OCV.

Nevertheless, the political and social grievances that might arise from such a decision must also be taken into careful consideration, as out-of-country votes can significantly alter the political landscape. Also, OCV mechanisms can be costly, complex to administer, and, depending on safeguards put in place, can be a point of vulnerability for election authorities.

Alihodzic highlighted the various ways in which OCV is conducted, which can be through postal ballot, online voting, proxy voting or in-person at designated polling stations abroad.

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In countries where OCV applies to all citizens, irrespective of the circumstances that have led them to move abroad and of their legal status in their host country, it would also apply to refugees who continue to retain the citizenship of their country of origin. However, a recent report by International IDEA on Political Participation of Refugees highlights that refugees may effectively be excluded, symbolically or physically, from participation in electoral processes of their country of origin.


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Even when they are formally entitled to vote from abroad in elections of their country of origin, they have serious reasons to be reluctant to register with the authorities of a persecutory or unprotective country. Furthermore, through in-depth interviews with refugees from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, the report found that refugees may be unwilling to communicate personal information to the authorities of their country of origin for fear of persecution.

For the same reasons, participation of refugees in OCV operations can be significantly hindered by the designation of polling stations in embassies or consulates of their home countries. A grand coalition of coalitions did not materialize in actual voting. Given the ineffective Democratic strategy, what political direction does the election's outcome suggest? Would moving toward Reagan help block a new regime? During the campaign, part of the Democratic Party advocated this course, and its candidates — John Glenn, Reuben Askew, Ernest Hollings — failed to win a significant primary vote.

Yet a straightforward Democratic conservatism has powerful adherents, and after the election debacle they will surely find a wider audience. This tendency criticizes Mondale as the captive of liberal special interests, such as the women's movement and the unions; claims the party as a whole has moved too far away from the center to win a national election; and castigates the Democratic leadership for its foreign and military policies:.

The Democrats were offering peace and fairness. But what the McGovernized Democrats mean by peace is military weakness and a retreat from global responsibility. The failures of this tendency's candidates in the Democratic primaries attests to the improbability of a prospective center-right democratic presidential majority. Moving right, the better to oppose Reaganism, also runs a major risk: that the popular left, from unions to the gay movement to environmentalists, will be demobilized by uninspired campaigns in which 'their' issues are ignored, while the Democrats fail to gain enough center votes to compensate.

Conservative strategies will continue to hold certain attractions. This is partly because many prominent Democrats agree with them in principle.

Among this stratum, a number of influential office-holders in the South and the West, having survived two Reagan landslides, now gain considerable credibility as advocates of a different Democratic course. There are, however, major differences between southern and western critiques of the Mondale campaign. The latter — exemplified by Governor Bruce Babbitt of Arizona, or by Gary Hart himself — are often significantly to the left of the former in crucial ways: on the means to limit growth in social spending; on environmental issues; on foreign policy; and especially on the so-called social issues,' with Christian fundamentalism and other conservative tendencies playing a more modest role in most western states than in the South.

For the moment, a rough working alliance exists between southern and western Democratic leaders despite obvious areas of disagreement. Even for those not entirely approving a conservative strategy, this direction offers at least a politically attractive change of course. One alternative to this view, usually implicit in organizational behavior rather than articulated as a coherent strategy is to retreat into the trenches, defend existing positions, and prepare for a national campaign without Reagan's haunting presence.

It would be unfair to call this strategy do-nothingism since it requires enormous efforts to wage the defensive battles now on the agenda, such as those over abortion rights. Yet the labor movement, and parts of the women's movement, have already given an account of the defeat which amounts to calling for a replay of Mondale's campaign. The hope is that in success will be achieved against a less attractive Republican, perhaps with a more telegenic or at least more eloquent Democrat, perhaps with the assistance of more troubled economic times.

Mario Cuomo is the obvious candidate, with his insistence that 'we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another…' Keynote Address, Democratic National Convention; quoted in NYT , 17 July If Mondale's defeat had been narrow, this strategy might have dominated. Given the result however, this view must remain an undercurrent, even though it represents the implicit choice of powerful Democratic forces. It is, however, likely to fail as an electoral strategy for all the reasons that the Mondale campaign failed.

Another possible strategy has been suggested by elements on the left of the Democratic Party, as well as by left groups outside the party. This strategy proposes that the party move substantially to the left.

The Democrats’ Dilemma

The claim is that despite neoconservative critiques, Mondale suffered by moving too far toward Reagan, and that greater success could be achieved by a candidate who tried to recapture a more militant and populist spirit for the same coalition Mondale appealed to unsuccessfully. Such a campaign would defend social spending more aggressively and attack Reaganite foreign policy with less reserve. The evidence for the strategic merit of the first type of left shift is mixed. Simon and Harkin won against weak opponents — but they did defeat incumbents in a difficult year.

In other races, a more aggressive populism would have gained some votes, but the question is how many weighed against the considerable potential losses. The prospects for the second type of shift are bleak if the aim is to win a presidential election in the near future, rather than to build a left faction in and around the Democratic Party. Neither Jackson nor McGovern could have transformed the political scene dramatically in a short period, and both would have run much further behind Reagan than Mondale did. In , the lines between the left inside and outside the Democratic Party were more blurred than has been true for many years, and this was for two reasons.

The Jackson and McGovern candidacies were quite radical, especially by American standards; a section the Democratic Party has moved well to the left, and expresses many positions with which those to its left have relatively little disagreement.

The Democrats’ Dilemma - WSJ

From the other direction, among those who once disdained participation in the Democratic Party, the threat and the reality of Reaganism persuaded most to support the Democratic efforts. The movement into the Democratic Party from the organized left, and much more important, from the social and political movements of the last decade, has influenced most sections of the party.

This influence has helped shift much of the organized party to the left of its traditional positions, especially on international issues. Another effect of relations between the organized party and popular social and political movements has been the dispersion of the Democratic left among three of the main tendencies in the party, represented in by Mondale, Gary Hart, and Jackson.

Leftists inside and around the Democratic Party were by no means unanimous in supporting Jesse Jackson, especially after Jackson's failure to deal adequately with charges of anti-Semitism. Feminists divided their support among Hart, Mondale, and Jackson; labor activists mainly supported Mondale, but there was some support for Jackson, and in the West, sympathy for Hart especially in the service sector unions , Chicano activists were also divided among the campaigns, despite the overtures made by Jackson's campaign that they participate in a 'Rainbow Coalition'; this reluctance was due in part to a widespread perception that Jackson's campaign was basically a Black ethnic politics, with limited possibilities for becoming much broader.

Boundaries have broken down on the left of the party. There is more debate, and it sometimes unfolds in language which even the socialist left finds familiar. Various left currents inside and outside the party face most of the same problems as those to their right, with no apparent solutions. One problem facing all the 'lefts' is that some of their core positions are politically so unpopular that they were among Reagan's favorite targets, even when Mondale did not really share them. The Democratic left's positions on defense, for example, are still framed by opposition to the Vietnam War, or to overt American intervention in Latin America on the side of the dictators.

For many, including people highly critical of Reagan, these positions appear exclusively negative, or passive and indifferent to the course of events outside this country. The policies of the left are also a source of problems in social and economic policy. This is not due so much to wild popular enthusiasm for Reaganite budget-cutting, as to the perception that Democrats are far more concerned with distributing wealth than with generating it. Many regard Democratic policies as aimed at preserving positions of relative privilege for industries and unions which are competitively inefficient — in effect, as efforts to force taxpayers to subsidize powerful special interest groups.

The negative public reaction to calls for protectionism from within the Democratic Party — calls from its left as well as on its Center — is connected to a central problem which will confront Democratic efforts for the rest of the decade. Antiwar activists, feminists, environmentalists, and unionists share this image with those who guided the Mondale campaign. In recent years it has become known as the problem of 'special interests,' a term which the left has understandably resisted when it is applied to labor, the women's movement, and environmentalism.

Georgia’s Democratic Dilemma

Reagan amplified this theme in his criticism of Mondale, and used it to pad his victory. He charged that rather than having any firm principles or overall political direction, Mondale sought simply to please a range of powerful constituency organizations in order to obtain political resources for his campaign. On the left as well as the center, anti-Reagan efforts were often oblivious to the popular perception of these issues. Most efforts, assuming that 'natural' Democrats still constitute a majority, also conceived the Democratic vote as a collection of blocs to be delivered by their nominal leaderships, from NOW to the AFL-CIO.

A weak Democratic apparatus tried to coordinate their efforts or at least keep them from attacking each other in public, but without success. Blaming all this on Mondale would unfairly continue the tendency among Democrats and the left to excuse their own weaknesses by vilifying a recent unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate McGovern, Carter, or Mondale, depending on who's doing the accusing. In the wake of the decline of the Democratic political order, which had lasted from the s through the s, little holds together the remaining sections of the old coalition or the new groups around it.

Nor is this situation just a problem for centrist Democrats. The left — inside and outside the Democratic Party — is no more able to present itself coherently than was the Mondale campaign. Two levels of political discourse now predominate within the Democratic Party and to its left. One centers on very general statements of principle about democracy, equality, and social justice. The other makes specific programmatic commitments arising from the immediate demands of a multitude of groups, from comparable worth to toxic wastes programs.

Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy
Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy Polls and politics: the dilemmas of democracy

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