Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Friday, March 31, 2006

Best Of The Week's Blogs

A new feature now on Democracy Rising, partially lending to the old Carnival of Revolutions (whatever happened to that?!). Here are my top 5 blog entries for the week beginning 27th March 2006:

  • Andrei Khrapavitski asks 'Whats up with Lukashenka?'. For those who are unaware, the Belarusian President has been missing from television screens since his defiant press conference on the Monday after the ballot. Furthermore suspicions are being raised by the cancellation of Luka's inauguration. So just where he is? Has he turned to drink, is he afraid the opposition might spoil his big day? A heart attack? In the same week Castro supposedly died, my logic tells me to dismiss this as pure speculation. Read on though...

  • Not so much a post, but a Blog to keep your eye on. Singapore - probably one of the worlds most cleverly run police-states - is expected to hold a general election in the coming months. With the rise of the 'Democratic movement' can the opposition make some inroads into the PAP's 47-year long rule?

Happy reading!

Matt Jay

Democracy Update: Friday 31st March 2006

On what has been a day filled with natural tragedies, there is little in the way of Democracy news. However here are a few quick links to what's been happening across the globe at 14:50 GMT

  • Progress in one of the more Liberal Middle-Eastern regimes. Immigrant workers who have long been poorly treated in the United Arab Emirates are to be allowed to form trade unions. Not only should this provide an outlet to end the sub-human conditions associated with pre-industrial Europe, but could be a step on the way to UEA Democracy. Small steps.

Thats all for now, a very slow day, take care, and enjoy your weekend!

Matt Jay

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not Western Politics But Russian Economics May Force Out Lukashenka

The trouble with the Belarusian economy is this; It's managed almost entirely by the state. The way Lukashenka is able to pay pensions on time, boost police wages and so forth, is due to one main revenue spinner. Belarusian gas pipes. The President is able to charge Russia for the pleasure of using these to export to Europe, whilst gaining knock down prices for the Kremlin's resources.

It's no secret that Putin detests Lukashenka. Perhaps this is a way for Moscow to hit him hard. For those with too little time to read, Gazprom have announced that Belarus will face the same Euro-standard prices for Gas as everybody else from next year. The aim? To force Lukashenka into privatising his pipes, selling them onto the Kremlin.

Whether or not Lukashenka accepts this, or just puts up with high gas prices, he is in a lose-lose situation. The Belarusian economy is incredibly fragile, and would not be able to withstand the market force prices at work in the rest of Europe. This could then very well cause huge headaches for Lukashenka, unable to pay his pensioners, unable to pay his police, discontent could grow.

But why is Russia doing this?

What most people fail to see is that Moscow isn't interested in propping up dictators, it's interested in propping up itself. If it buys the only bargaining chip Belarus has in its quest for support from Russia - everything else is irrelevant. No Democratic government would likely dare to reverse a Privatisation deal with such a large power. A small European state such as Belarus has little of value to offer on the world stage for the Kremlin, Lukashenka is therefore the ultimate tool. Why did Russia not speak out after the recent election? Because the gas deal is not sealed. Putin is yet to get his hands on Belarusian gas pipes - if he had criticized Lukashenka, and the opposition had come to power, the sale of the transit route would never occur.

Was Milinkevich correct when he said the regime would not last a full five years? It's certainly possible.

Democracy Update: Thursday 30th March 2006

This is how the world's Democracy looks at 16:10 GMT

That's all from the update for today guys, take care!

Matt Jay

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Nigerian Opposition Slams Government Over Radio Ban

Media Network Blog is reporting that a Nigerian opposition radio station has been banned from broadcasting political programmes. As mentioned, its just another worrying sign that Nigeria is drifting from the path of Democracy.

Democracy Update: Wednesday 29th March 2006

Here's a few links to Democracy news around the world at 15:21 GMT

  • The Trans-Dniester crisis is about to hit Moldova hard. The small impoversished nation gets most of its revenue from wine exports to Russia, but a growing rift between Moscow and 'Orange Countries' (Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine) was always likely to end in these petty games. How long can Moldova hold out? This is why diversification is key in economics.

  • As predicted Kadima has won the Israeli elections. Most suprising was the strong performance by a Pensioners party, Gil. The biggest positive out of this election is that extreme wings of politics, such as that bred by Netanyahu are being forced out. I couldn't help but wonder that if Fatah had won the Palestinian elections, we'd be calling today the greatest ever chance for peace in the Middle-East. Still we shall wait and see what happens in the current climate.

Thats all for today guys, enjoy your evening!

Matt Jay

Ukrainian Fraud?

I doubt it's gonna all turn Orange this time around, but some suprising allegations coming out of Ukraine today, with Tymoshenko claiming there has been vote-rigging in the East of the country.

Whilst this part of Ukraine, with close borders to Russia, is highly supportive of Viktor Yanukovych, im unsure if any ballot-fix has gone on. No allegations seem to have arisen until 4 days after the count began and the main basis of the argument seems to rest on 'slow ballot counting' by Eastern authorities. A quick look at the Ukrainian Central Election Commission website shows that Crimea Autonomous Republic and Donetsk regions are processing their votes at the same speed as other areas.

Furthermore, exit polls after the election pretty much predicted what we are seeing in terms of results today. Sure, Lytvyn and Vitrenko have not gained the predicted percentage points, but they have only missed out by small fractions. Exit polls do have margins of error. It seems more like sour grapes from the smaller parties, many of whom are about to find their leaders out of work.

Finally if rigging has occurred the OSCE final report will highlight that - and note how the CIS monitors have been incredibly quiet this time around. Besides, the Orange grouping can still pull together a coalition, meaning there will be 4 more years to iron out any creases in the Democratic process. All in all, things aren't looking bad for anyone.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Democracy Update: Tuesday 28th March 2006

Here's a few quick links to Democracy news across the globe at 14:20 GMT

That's all for today guys, enjoy your Tuesday!

Matt Jay

Monday, March 27, 2006

Democracy Update: 27th March 2006

Here's a few quick links to Democracy news across the globe at 17:06 GMT

That's all folks for now!

Matt Jay

At Least It's Original

Wars, Civil disturbances, "we don't need elections!" all excuses bandied about by authoritarian regimes to explain the lack of Democracy in their country.

You may remember in December I posted an article asking just where is Bhutan headed? A short summary can tell you that the article addressed the moves towards a pluralistic, elected government in this small Himalayan Kingdom. However it was only the other day that I discovered this article from February.

You can pretty much throw out my old points - a monarchy using such poor excuses won't be heading towards Democracy anytime soon.

The Strange World Of The Internet

Not usually one to type in my own name into Google, I found a suprising result on Sunday. It would appear such a thing as BlogShares exists, and DemocracyRising is valued at B$2,982.01. Thats right you can, and have been able to purchase imaginary shares in this site since August. Marvelous! If only it was real money. Could pay off this year's Uni fee's in a flash!

The Shady Politics Of Kuchma Live On A Year After The Revolution

The excellent Neeka's Backlog perhaps demonstrates just how little Ukraine has changed in the last year. Her attempts to merely photograph the Regions of Ukraine HQ was met with intimidation.

Staying with Ukraine, here's a look at the % of votes counted so far from the Central Election Commission. I think it's fair to expect some differentiation from the exit polls of yesterday, but it does appear that the Socialists have had a better showing than previously thought. Thanks to Fruits and Votes for showing a rusty mathmetician just how things should look, Deputy-wise, in the new Ukrainian parliament.

In the meantime check out this excellent link from the UK Guardian, providing links of its own to some top Ukrainian online analysis.

Democracy Rising Relaunched

As you can see Democracy Rising has undergone somewhat of a facelift today, changing from the template that was sooo last year to something a bit simpler. Aside from the cosmetic changes, expect more pictures, more posts and a few new features to boot.

Thanks for reading,

Matt Jay

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ukraine Election 2006: The Analysis

Two Exit Polls are claiming that President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine may come third in Parliamentary elections.

If this is the case the Orange team may be reunited, but under Tymoshenko's Premiership. Whilst this would be good in terms of quickly forming a government (the charismatic leader may dig her heels in if she can't get anything other than the P.M's job) it could be bad news for Ukraine. Yulia's bloc advocates strong state intervention for the Ukrainian economy, something likely to scare off investors. 4 years of such old-school economics and Kiev could find itself in a financially worse state than today.

Here is the only full exit poll I can find:

Regions (Yanukovych): 27.5%

Tymoshenko Bloc: 21.6%

Our Ukraine (Yushchenko): 15.6%

Socialist Party: 5.5%

Communists: 4.7%

Lytvyn Bloc: 5.1%

Vitrenko Bloc: 3.2%

I have no idea how this proportional system is working, a quick calculation of percentages using the method wikipedia describes, tells me that Regions will have 136 Deputies, Tymoshenko 104 Deputies, Our Ukraine 71 Deputies, Socialists 16 Deputies, Communists 12 Deputies, Lytvyn 14 Deputies, Vitrenko 4 Deputies. Obviously this falls short by about 100 Deputies, but gives you some idea of how things will look in the new parliament. The Orange camp should be able to form a government out of this.


I know I haven't commented much on the vote, so here is a bit of background.

Regions of Ukraine: Pro-Russian, Market Economics, Centrist Social Agenda (tainted by Kuchma association but now advocating protection of Opposition), Federalized Ukraine

Our Ukraine: Pro-European, Free Market Economics, Liberal Social Agenda, Unitary State

Tymoshenko Bloc: Moderately Pro-European/NATO-sceptic, State Intervention, Liberal Social Agenda, Unitary State

Socialists Bloc: Pro-European, Mixed Economy, Liberal Social Agenda, Unitary State

Communists: Pro-Russian, Nationalised Economy, Conservative Social Agenda, Unitary State

Lytvyn: Balanced between Europe and Russia, some State Intervention, Conservative Social Agenda, Decentralized Unitary State

Vitrenko: Staunchly Pro-Russian, State Intervention, Conservative Social Agenda, Federal Structure, Favourable to Joining Russia-Belarus Union.

As you can see the Russo-Euro political split is about 50:50, with Lytvyn clearly hoping to play kingmaker in Parliament. Whilst a clever tactic, the overall results may make his Bloc a small opposition grouping in the chamber. Of the other small parties; the Vitrenko bloc and Communists are extremely anti-European, and their view of economics unlikely to fit in with that of any party.

Short-Term Effects: Our Ukraine, Tymoshenko's Bloc and the Socialists will likely form a government, headed by Tymoshenko.

Party of Regions will be a strong opposition force in Parliament, possibly joined by the Lytvyn Bloc.

The Communists and Vitrenko - gaining their support largely from the elderly - will oppose much of the Orange government's eventual programme.

Long-Term Effects: Unless others are able to moderate Tymoshenko's economics, Ukraine may face a further slow-down in growth, creating political apathy and strengthening Yushchenko and the Socialists standing at the next election.

Regions of Ukraine will likely have to adapt their manifesto if hoping to form a coalition government before or after the next ballot. The party may be best served by reviving itself - perhaps ditching Yanukovych (tainted by association with Kuchma and a heavy-handed approach to opposition whilst PM). The Regions need not however abandon their Pro-Russian stance, something that could moderate radical pro-European's such as within Our Ukraine. It is possible, if a younger leader takes over the party showing a break with the past (something the British Conservative's have done), that Regions could find itself in government. The likelihood of Our Ukraine and the Socialists pulling out of a disfunctional Tymoshenko government, and working with a reformed Region's party, sometime in the next few years exists.

Lytvyn's best opportunity may now lie in moving to a slight pro-Russian stance. If he can build on his position as mild Conservative and advocate of a mixed economy, he can appear as a viable alternative to the Regions of Ukraine in 2011. If not his Bloc, unlikely to cause any hassle for the 3 pro-European parties, could be regarded as an ineffective choice in future elections.

The final two parties are unlikely to cross the 3% threshold in future elections - their Soviet nostalgia unappealing to any younger voters, their current support likely to die off by 2011.


Thats all for now, here are a few blogs to keep your Ukrainian minds at work: offers top analysis of the situation in Kiev gives a virtual minute by minute update on the situation

And check back to for constantly updated stories from various Agencies.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Democracy Round-Up

A quick look at events from around the globe on Thursday 23 March 2006:

Thats all for now folks, enjoy your evening!

Kyrgyzstan: One Year On

It's been a year since the Kyrgyz uprising - possibly the most dramatic of all the colour revolutions - and probably an appropriate time to reflect.

In January of last year, many commentators remarked that a revolution was impossible in Kyrgyzstan - the opposition too disorganised to apparently make such a push. President Akayev even claimed, a few days before the 'coup' took hold, that he had found a 'vaccine' to Revolution. Quite what that was we shall never know. It certainly was ineffective. I do remember reading Misir Ashyrkulov, a former Presidential ally, had been placed in the opposition in an elaborate attempt for Akayev to handover power to a so-called opponent without actually losing power. Whether this would have occured in the scheduled October vote, we shall never know.

Achievements of the revolution are few and far between. Corruption has increased, constitutional reform has been delayed, and Bakiyev seems to think the economy can be kept afloat with extortionate rates for U.S airbases.

As I have remarked in the past Bakiyev seems to be intent on ruling in a similar manner to Akayev. Sadly, he doesn't even seem to pay lip-service to Democracy, rarely mentioning it at a time when most Kyrgyz hoped for a Yushchenko-esque figure.

What is most worrying is that protests have continued across the country - people clearly frustrated and agitated by the ineffective government. Bakiyev needs to reform - failure to learn the lessons of history (The Russian Provisional Government, Liberal Italy) show that ignoring the desires of people participating in a revolution only tends to push them towards more radical groups. The government has much to do in its second year. It may prove crucial. Let there be no doubt - Kyrgyzstan is still a flashpoint for violence and upheaval in 2006.


IWPR has a review as Kyrgyzstan Recalls the Day “Justice Triumphed”

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reflections On Day Two Of Denim Revolution

I've been posting comments on numerous forums over the day and keeping an eye on the situation in between studying. So here is the Democracy Rising view on the situation in Minsk - Monday March 20th 2006:

It's been a day of misinformation really. Some are still arguing over the exact figure from last night, RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty claiming almost 50,000, the Daily Telegraph in the UK only 9,000, the BBC 10,000. Things were worse tonight with RFE/RL claiming about 15,000, Ekho Moskvy 6,000. No disagreement that figures were certainly lower. However it seems people do want to join the protest - the police are simply blocking their route to the square. Watching video scenes from the various sources and hearing the numerous car horns in those clips it seems like most of Minsk is with the opposition.

I was somewhat disappointed earlier in the evening, even concerned there had been no protest at all. Most of the western media seemed quite happy to bang on about U.S condemnation of the ballot, whilst keeping hush on the further demonstrations. Lets hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Yet the BBC eventually picked up on the protests, as did Al-Jazeera, so the message is getting out. Lets hope this can keep up the pressure and spur the Milinkevich backers on.

Some good news is that the police appear to have allowed the demonstration to continue - at least for now. If the opposition can convince even 25% of officers to leave their protest alone it will cause friction and indecisiveness in the security forces. This was one successful tactic in the Orange Revolution.

Also, despite numerous claims that the elderly support Lukashenko, look at the faces in the October Square crowd. 50:50 split between the young and old, all cheering for Milinkevich. Check out these for proof.

The saddest news of the evening is this (if the link works). Police had detained Milinkevic's two sons. A tactic to get a concerned Milinkevich off the street looking for his flesh and blood? If so Lukashenko is shooting himself in the foot - people and the West are only going to get more rattled with this kind of behaviour. Thankfully things seem to have been resolved. The sons are allegedly free.

So as I drift off to bed, I await to see the news in the morning. Will the tent city under construction be smashed in the night? Will the protests grow tomorrow? Will the police defect? Will the west lose interest?

Long Live Belarus, may all those on October Square have a peaceful night. Democracy is Rising in Minsk

Updates follow...

Prepare...Time For Action

Well after an incredibly slow start things seem to be picking up pace in Minsk tonight. I have to express disappointment that the BBC haven't mentioned this once. Reports claim the Denim Revolution now has a stage in October square, and bands are playing live. Echoes of Ukraine anyone? In addition Alyaksandr Milinkevich has called on those gathered (around 15,000 and down from last night) to call their friends and families and to prepare to stay the night.

Will the people follow Milinkevich? It remains to be seen.

Will the authorities disperse the protest? Riot police are on stand by.

Long Live Democracy, Long Live Belarus!

Stand by for further updates...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lukashenka In Trouble?

RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty are claiming that around 30,000 people are now on the streets of Minsk. If true this would be the biggest protest in over a decade. I think most importantly for Belarussians is safety in numbers. It will be a lot harder for the police to force 30,000 or more people out of October square than in the last election when the numbers were in the low thousands.

All this whilst Belarus State TV broadcasts patriotic songs and clips of sportsmen praising the incumbent. I haven't even seen a picture of Alexander Milinkevich in the last hour of coverage.

More updates follow...

Will Denim Revolution Succeed?

That is the question on everyone's lips today. As Tobias Ljungvall notes 'will freedom-yearning Belarusians dare to protest?'. The latest information tells me that they are. This is somewhat suprising. I did expect attempts at protest, but had a hunch the authorities might try and employ tactics (such as road blocking) to keep opposition supporters from congregating in one area.

So where now?

My guess is that nothing will happen for a few hours, then we shall see whether protestors stick things out into the night or pack up for sleep. If the former occurs the protest may pass off peacefully. If it is the latter expect mass police action in the small hours of the morning, with possible riots in retaliation.

Will the opposition return tomorrow? Perhaps, but the day after the election focus may drift in the West from Belarus back to Iraq or Thailand - providing the perfect opportunity to literally force supporters out of Minsk square.

Lukashenko could always pull a Karimov of course and try and violently expell supporters from Minsk - my instincts tell me that this scale of violence will not happen. If it did I doubt even Putin could go on supporting such a regime in Europe's backyard.

Interesting to note that Zubr is claiming their site has been hacked. I can confirm that opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich's page has been down all day.

Updates follow...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Independent Media Forced Out In Belarus

I have to say the way things are going, the Belarussian repression is going to get worse after this election. Today the only independent newspapers lost their contracts with Russian print houses, forcing them off the streets of Minsk. If the opposition can't pull something out of the bag this time, I really do fear any semi-constitutional transfer of power will be permanently lost.

Berlusconi Storms Out Of Election Interview On RAI TV

Thanks to Media Network Blog for this one. The latest polls put Berlusconi 3.5 points behind his rivals. The end of a controversial but successful Prime Ministership?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nazarbaeva Running Scared?

Interesting to note this article today, with the President's daughter claiming the opposition to be in 'cahoots' with the security forces.

Several interesting points can be raised from this.

Firstly given the fascinating article on RFE/RL last weekend in regard to 'shadow politics', is Nazarbaeva's position as Presidential successor now under threat from one or more corners? It would certainly seem so, or that the Nazarbayev's are trying to put up the frightners incase anyone gets a clever idea.

Secondly, can the opposition capitalise on the situation? Contemplate this for a moment. A behind the scenes power struggle is on-going. Whilst the government fights amongst itself, it is possible that their eye will be taken off the opposition, allowing them to make in roads into Nazarbayev support. It is also possible that those in the know, such as the KNB, may look over intelligence about the 'enemy', in an attempt to further rattle the foundations of power. These parties, partially made up of ex-cronies may themselves prove a useful tool for any power group hoping to secure the 2012 Otan ticket.

The election is over, but I think the real shockwaves are occuring in the powers of corridor as we speak.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stand By For A Defection

...either that or Kazakh politics is becoming unusually pluralistic. A somewhat brave step to attack the President in this manner. Here's more about the elite's power struggles. An excellent article from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, giving a detailed insight to the shadow politics of the Kazakh system I had little knowledge of.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Opposition Gains Courage In Belarus

A relatively quiet Presidential election campaign is becoming increasingly noisy, with the assault and arrest of a minor candidate and the threat of rallies in Minsk from another.

Social Democratic Party leader Alexander Kozulin and three others were detained after trying to interrupt a Soviet-style congress organised to heap praise on President Lukashenko. Kozulin had allegedly been critical of Lukashenko in a recent television adress (one thing all candidates are allowed in this election is a 30-minute TV pitch) and claimed "I wanted to tell the truth about the dictatorship we live in".

Meanwhile the main opposition candidate, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, has called a preelection rally later today in the capital, Minsk, without government permission. Milinkevich said if police use force to break up today's rally, the opposition "reserve the right to take appropriate measures."

Oddly enough, the Milinkevich's webpage has gone down...

Libya Loosens Up

With the freeing of political prisoners, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Expect no elections here in the future, but all positive steps, no matter how small, should be taken as good news.

Kenyan Government 'Snake' Bites Independent Media

In what is one of the most disgusting violations of press freedom, Kenyan police have confirmed they were responsible for the carnage at an independent television station and for burning thousands of copies on an independent newspaper.

Just who does Mwai Kibaki think he is? If his government wasn't so interested in sticking its corrupt hands in state coffers, there would be no need for such repression. Exactly who is going to be applauding this move? This won't shore up report or intimidate anyone. It will make people more determined to vote KANU next time, and give momentum to a press determined to show the self-serving government for what it is.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What Nazarbayev Said

Here is the promised update on the Kazakh State of the Nation adress. President Nazarbayev spoke of the need to develop, but protect Democracy (a thinly veiled threat to the opposition perhaps?). Other mentions went to the need for WTO accession, building of ties with Islamic nations, possible strengthening of Parliament's weak powers and to build Astana's reputation as the major City of Central Asia. Nothing spectacular.