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NYT: Democracy's Price of Admission

Author: Tzipi Livni
June 5, 2009


In this New York Times Op-Ed Tzipi Livni, a former vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Israel, writes about Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections and comments that voting alone does not constitute democracy, but rather the values of participating parties must also be taken into account.

IN his speech in Cairo yesterday, President Obama acknowledged an important principle: "Elections alone do not make true democracy." That principle will be tested this weekend when the Lebanese people go to the polls. Many have called for the elections to be free and fair. But few have asked whether this is even possible if Hezbollah - the radical Shiite party with a huge arsenal and a deeply anti-democratic agenda - is viewed as a legitimate participant in the process.

A similar question arose before Hamas's participation in the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections. Then, as Israeli justice minister, I tried in vain to persuade the international community that to promote democracy it was not enough to focus on the technical conduct of elections, it was necessary to insist that those who sought the benefits of the democratic process accepted its underlying principles as well.


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