Saturday, March 19, 2011

Public Choice

It is an incredible thing to see an Egyptian election with queues of unmolested, smiling voters instead of lines of riot police. There are no knife-wielding thugs, no smug State Security officers scurrying about gaming things. The sky is clear, there’s no tear gas clouding vision. Voters aren’t scuffling with police outside, banging on the doors to get in, chanting slogans of woe and injustice.

Inside, there are no poll workers huddling to stuff ballot boxes.

For the first time ever, people are voting with their national ID card, no complicated voting cards needed. Nobody is obstructing volunteer poll monitors, gruffly asking them what they think they’re doing or kicking them out. Judges are back, in their unusual but essential role as the best election supervisors Egypt can have. Photographers are free to snap shots inside the stations, there’s nothing to hide. And yes, voters are young and old, men and women, religious and not, rich and not, literate and unlettered. Egypt today held a real referendum that looks like its people, not a fake acclamation staged by an absolute ruler.

Does it say anywhere in the books that revolutions make the unreal happen?

*AP Photos