Thursday, February 14, 2008

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It bears repeating -- fundamentalist parties stink at governing

In the New York Times, Carlotta Gall reports that Pakistanis have reached a conclusion familiar to many other countries -- religious fundamentalists are really bad at governing, and pay a price for it at the polls:

The religious parties that for the last five years have governed the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan Province, which border Afghanistan and the tribal areas, are foundering.

Since being swept to power in 2002 on a wave of anti-Americanism and sympathy for the Taliban after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the mullahs here have found that the public mood has shifted against them.

People complain that they have failed to deliver on their promises, that they have proved just as corrupt as other politicians and that they have presided over a worsening of security, demonstrated most vividly in a rising number of suicide attacks carried out by militants based in the nearby tribal areas.

“They did not serve the people,” said Faiz Muhammad, 47, a farmer whose son was killed in the bomb blast on an Awami political gathering on Saturday....

Two opinion polls released this week show that the standing of the religious parties has fallen to a new low, with voters showing a strong shift of support toward the moderate parties.

A survey of more than 3,000 people at the end of January by the International Republican Institute showed that the religious parties could command only 1 percent of the vote nationally, down from 4 percent in November. In North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan Province, their share was 4 percent.

Meanwhile, support for the Pakistan Peoples Party, the party of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has soared to 50 percent nationally, the poll found. The face-to-face survey was conducted throughout Pakistan and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Another survey conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington-based bipartisan group that seeks to reduce support for international terrorism, showed backing at 62 percent for the Pakistan Peoples Party and the faction of the Pakistan Muslim League led by the opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.

If the Taliban were on the ballot sheet, they would garner just 3 percent of the vote, and Al Qaeda only 1 percent, according to the poll.

posted by Dan on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM


Is that really holding true in Turkey?

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

Seems to hold true for Bush administration.

posted by: mike on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

Mike beat me to the punch on this. But let's not also forget the broader Republican Party is fundie-dominated and has more than aided and abetted this administration. It's difficult to imagine Republicans of the past like the definitely non-fundie Howard Baker and Bob Michel signing off on this BS.

The AKP in Turkey is not a fundie party. OK, they have fundie members. But the leadership is so desperate to prove they're simply an Islamic version of a Euro Christian Democrat Party that they've actually started acting like it and making policy like it. We'll see how long it lasts, but that's where it is for now. The Republicans, on the other hand, pander to the religious fundies rather than trying to hide them in the attic.

posted by: DB on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

DB, if you talk to anyone who calls himself or herself a secular liberal in Turkey, they'll definitely accuse the AKP of having a hidden Islamist agenda and of pandering to the religious fundamentalists. Surely you've heard of the various huge marches in favor of secularism, the hint by the Army that Abdullah Gul was unacceptable as president and that a coup might be necessary, etc.? A year old article here.

Plenty of secularists decry the recent constitutional amendments to lift the headscarf ban at universities as "pandering" to the fundamentalists. They also have plans to ban showing alcohol (not just advertising) on television.

Of course, it's unsurprising that you're willing to give the AKP all the benefit of the doubt while giving none to the Bush Administration. However, I certainly think that you ought to point to actual pandering to fundamentalists by the current Administration to make your case. The AKP, after all, has links to Islamist parties and massive support among fundamentalists, which you argue is not enough to make any sort of case. (Preferably pandering that is somehow Republican-specific and doesn't include the Clinton Administration as well, I would say. Embryonic research is not that great an example, BTW; in typical Clinton fashion, there was no government funding during the Clinton Administration, and a committee was formed to study the issue, reporting only after Clinton left office. Gay marriage is another that's not so good-- Clinton bragged about signing the Defense of Marriage Act on Christian radio and TV.)

posted by: John Thacker on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

One of the best examples of pandering I can come up with is that the FCC has been certainly far more active at responding to obscenity complaints for broadcast TV than under the Clinton Administration. So there's one for you.

posted by: John Thacker on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

The Kansas school board is a bad example for the Republican Party as a whole, considering that the board members who opposed teaching evolution lost in the Republican primary the first time they came up for re-election.

posted by: John Thacker on 02.14.08 at 07:54 AM [permalink]

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