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Bullets, Ballots, or None of the Above?

December 5th, 2004 - 9:44 pm

Just when things were looking rosy in Ukraine. . .

European mediators were expected to hold a new round of talks today to break the latest impasse over Ukraine’s disputed presidential elections after the parliament refused to pass revised electoral laws for a court-ordered vote scheduled for Dec. 26.

It is unclear whether the parliament, which adjourned its emergency meeting for 10 days, might reverse itself, or whether the election may be postponed. But the protests and political recriminations have repeatedly brought Ukraine to the brink of crisis.

If the election goes as scheduled on the 26th without the court-mandated reform laws, then the results could be as (ahem) suspect as the first one last month. Or is that really such a worry? The opposition is quite energized, and it would take fraud on a scale unseen in even November to prevent an Yushchenko victory.

Arguable, things could be worse if the Ukrainian parliament were to cave in and pass the reform laws. Why? Because in a young nation like Ukraine, legalities don’t make much difference. The outcome probably wouldn’t be any less rigged than a new election without the reforms – yet hardliners could claim, “Look, we did everything the reformers wanted except lose a fair election.”

In other words: An election, fair or foul, might not pull Ukraine out of its post-Soviet sinkhole. What would? Revolution, baby.

Elections didn’t bring down the Berlin Wall. Elections didn’t put the Ceaucescus up against a wall. Elections work in countries where freedom has already been won. Case in point: The American Revolution was won in 1781, confirmed by treaty in 1783; George Washington was elected our first President in 1788.

Revolutions win freedom. Elections “merely” underscore and legitimize a people’s newfound liberty.

The do-over election, whenever it ends up being held, will do little more than reinforce the decision being fought over right now in the streets of Kiev.

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