People vote for change in Tonga, Zimbabwe and Nepal

– Alastair Reith

In the past month or so, elections took place in three very different countries, far away from one another, with distinctly different languages, cultures and histories. These countries did have some things in common. All were all poor, third-world countries, whose people live in poverty and oppression, and they all voted against the regimes and systems they currently live under.

Tonga votes against monarchy, for democracy

In the leadup to the Tongan elections, mainstream New Zealand media talked a great deal about how the people of Tonga did not want radical change and did not really want the monarchy to go, and how the pro-democracy candidates were going to get an awful result.

Just as with their predictions in Nepal, they were proved to be completely wrong. In the Tongan elections, pro-democracy candidates won all nine elected seats.

Of the 34 seats in the Tongan parliament, candidates are democratically elected to only nine, with 16 members being appointed directly by the king, and another nine representing “the noble families of the realm”. This is essentially a semi-feudalistic system, with a small minority of nobles and the capitalists linked to them monopolising all power and wealth in the country.

Democratic reforms are due to be implemented in 2010, with the balance of seats being changed to 17 MPs elected by the people, nine MPs to represent the “nobility” and 4 MPs to be appointed by the King.

While this would certainly be a positive move and a step in the right direction, ultimately the King and his nobles have no right to exist. The people of Tonga deserve to live in a nation where everyone is treated equally and nobody lives in great privilege simply due to being born lucky.

Such a society can only come about through completely eradicating not only feudalism but capitalism as well, and moving towards a socialist system.

Zimbabwe votes against Mugabe’s dictatorship, but is the MDC any better?

In Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won 99 seats in the House of Assembly, with Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party winning 97 and the minority MDC faction winning 10.

In the last issue of The Spark we reported that the results of the presidential elections had not yet been released, and fears were growing that the results would be rigged in Mugabe’s favour. The MDC declared that it had won an outright victory.

The results of the recount were released on May 2, with Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC winning 47.9% of the vote to Mugabe’s 43.2%. As neither of the two main candidates won a majority, a run-off will be held on June 27.

Since the initial elections, ZANU-PF has unleashed a wave of violence against MDC members, with several being killed. Interestingly, government-approved farm occupations have begun again in some areas. This also happened after the 2000 elections, and clearly shows that the farm occupations are not part of any attempt by Mugabe to radically transform Zimbabwe’s economy and transfer land and wealth to the poor, but is rather just an attempt to distract people from his election defeats.

Disturbing reports have also emerged about the actions of the MDC (which advocates neo-liberal, right-wing economic policies). ZANU-PF accuses them of being funded by American and British imperialism, and it would not be at all surprising if this were the case – the US and British have a long history of meddling in Third World politics, and have openly declared their intentions to effect regime change in Zimbabwe1. There are also unverified reports of foreign NGOs telling voters that if they do not vote for the MDC, food distribution will stop.

Nepal votes for Maoist revolutionaries

In the recent Constituent Assembly elections, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won 220 out of 575 seats, making them by far the largest party in the Assembly. (The two next biggest, the Nepali Congress and the revisionist (ie claiming to be Marxist, but acting counter-revolutionary) Communist Party of Nepal (UML), won 110 and 103 respectively, making them smaller than the Maoists even when put together!)

The vote for the revolutionary Maoists represents the mass support they enjoy amongst the Nepalese masses, on whose side they fought during the decade-long People’s War. In the course of this struggle the Maoists liberated 80% of the countryside, before changing their tactics in order to move the revolutionary struggle into the urban areas.

The four next-biggest parties agreed on May 24 to back a Maoist-led government. However, there is still a great deal of conflict between the Maoists and the non-revolutionary parties. The Maoists are demanding that, as the largest party, they receive the two biggest portfolios in the government, the posts of Prime Minister and President. They have compromised to agree that the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly could be a non-Maoist.

The Nepal Congress in particular is calling for the Maoists to disband the People’s Liberation Army and the Young Communist League, but the Maoists have rejected this.

After a huge step forward, tensions remain in the new Nepal.


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