Fighting With Numbers


Is democracy all about numbers? Is it only about what the majority says? I’m not going bluntly say yes or no, I’ll take the easy way out and say it depends. Please, allow me to explain.

Everyone interested in Middle Eastern affairs for the past couple of years have been deeply fooled, or fooling himself, in a numbers game. They say, are there problems over there? The solution: Easy, just hand over the power to the majority and that should do it. Or, those who consider themselves a little more intellectual would say: Easy, there should be power sharing and that should do it. And then come those who consider themselves analysts would say: The current ruling part should give away a bit more of their power and that should do it!

To me, this is all nonsense if it lacks the fundamentals that societies need for development. When country level indicators such as growth, income inequality, unemployment, fiscal imbalances, and inflation are all over the map, then an oversimplified prescription of manual power shift would have no influence whatsoever on the individual’s well-being. So when protesters for example go out on streets to demand a better life, and outsiders relate this to the control of power by government, I find myself hung between earth and sky. Here’s why.

Whenever there is a problem, the solution has to be unique in order to find the best possible solution. What’s being done for now is that the solution is no longer unique to various types of problems around the Middle East. Yes, democracy, as a solution, is important, but democracy is not simply majority rule, it is much more than that. The way I see it, even America today need to democratize in order to solve its own financial problems. In political science, democracy is all about efficient and functional institutions that constrain leaders to operate in the best manner they can by generating the most optimal decisions.

In America today, decisions on where to steer the economy are not optimal, they fall short in finding the best unique solutions to the problems they face. The reason is simply because of power sharing. Neither the white house, nor congress are able to make the decision they believe is best for the economy, because they have to feed into it the policies that would make other important sides happy. Therefore, instead of picking and disposing the can in the trash where it belongs, they continue kicking it further down the road, where more cans await. Where are the democratic institutions that guarantees optimal decisions?

So back to the Middle East, where our economies combined account for only 5% or less of the world economy, can we afford not making perfect economic decisions simply to satisfy every stakeholder in the non-ending power struggle?

Even though we cannot afford any bad decisions while trying to catch up with the developed world, we still need a change that would directly target the indicators I mentioned above, along with many other significant ones as well. If power sharing is an important economic solution, then it should be on the table. However, if power sharing is simply for the sake of power sharing, then we’re just shooting ourselves on the foot, just like what Egypt is doing, shooting itself on the foot. The priority as I see it is to establish democratic institutions that would tackle one issue at a time.

Democratic institutions are institutions established with a vision and a strategic mission to reach their goals. They are regulators to what falls within their umbrellas and are accountable to what they genuinely enforce. They work to make the future as most certain as possible with complete transparency that will entail other higher level and accountable institutions to monitor them inside out.

So to conclude, for the sake of development,  it’s all-right to fight with numbers, but not any numbers, quality numbers.

Categories: Bahrain, Economics, Politics

Tags: , , ,

1 reply

  1. Is the situation in Bahrain, issue of democracy?
    I really do not know, I do not live there, I do not have enough reliable information.
    What is democracy, how the individual may exercise all of its rights and freedom?
    We will get a million responses from a million people, well, what all these have in common?
    – Rule of Law.
    What does that mean? Is there an ONE answer to this?
    If an individual wants to live in a regulated country that he and all his other fellow citizens, through the Rule of Law, ensure all human rights and freedoms, we need Institutions that will ensure that, regardless of the prevailing political conditions, the presence or absence of foreign threat and pressures , economic hardship, etc., etc..
    Institutions are fundamental architecture of any ordered society, if citizens Before and Above all other participants in public life Support, Preseve and Respect the Institutions of that society, then their future is guaranteed.
    Good, and what Institutions are, and what is their mission?
    My answer is Management – effective public administration, from the highest to the lowest level.
    If any member of the public administration, from the prime minister to street sweepers doing their job responsibly, diligently and efficiently, the state and its people will prosper.
    The most important role of the institution is to set a positive example and high standards, to the entire society.
    In only a few countries in the world, there are such institutions and citizens keep them from violations of any action by politicians, corporations, banks, lobbies, friends and enemies.

    As for numbers and democracy, let us remember that today would not exist either of that, there was a ONE Russian colonel who, despite all the orders and rules, decided NOT to press the red button.
    Now tell me, what is the value of that ONE versus many?
    Heavy issue, thanks for the great article. 🙂

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