Tunisia sparked the ‘Arab Spring’. An act of dramatic civil disobedience against petty repression provided both the image and the motivation. Hopes were high, Tunisia has, in comparison to other Arab and Islamic countries been more secularist, better educated and religiously moderate. They were also under the control of a firm central authority that held the potential power of religious movements under tight control; until now.
The Islamist Party in Tunisia, al-Nahda, won in a Parliamentary landslide gaining 40% of the seats and now represent a controlling voting block; Al-Nahda, and by extension, Islamists will control the legislative process in Tunisia.
The West continues to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the mere fact of an election is an empirical positive. The West holds to the view that, somehow, elections equate to the establishment of democratic values and structures when we know that democratic principles must be deep and abiding for elections to actually lead to democratic institutions. The ‘elections are good no matter what’ theory has been disproved in Gaza, Iran and Turkey; it will soon be proven in Libya and Egypt which will, unfortunately, follow Tunisia’s example to a ruling Islamist majority.
Islamists have long viewed democratic elections in the Middle East as a path to power; ‘one man, one vote, one time’! In Islamist view a short term wave at democratic elections is nothing more than a means to an end. Cognizance of this strategy was Mubarak’s motivation for the decade’s long suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood as a political party in Egypt, banning the Brotherhood from participation in elections until recently.
The West greedily flocks to the idea that elections equal democracy. Those with totalitarian objectives feed the idea back to the West with nearly comprehensive success. The Western geopolitical establishment believes what is convenient in the moment, paying no intellectual homage to the realities on the ground in the Middle East or the ideology that will soon dominate from the Mediterranean through North Africa to the Levant to the Pacific.
A new age of totalitarianism is in sight, Tunisia leads the way.