Thursday, February 17, 2005

If at first you don't succeed... 

Mohammed of Iraq the Model blog writes about his joy at watching the election results come through, even though he himself did not win a seat in the National Assembly with his Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party:

"I was so happy today while watching the results being displayed on TV although I didn't get the seat I dreamed of. Little parties like ours couldn't compete with the larger ones that own radio and TV networks and had their banners and posters filling the streets while I had to borrow from my friends to pay the 5000 $ registration fees of the party because the support we received for the party from our friends and supporters hasn't reached Baghdad till this moment because of some banking bureaucracy. All we had was 3000 $ to spend on advertising and publicity and managing all the party's affairs.

"Add to this that the candidates of small parties had to accept risking their lives as we made ourselves easy targets for the terrorists; we don't have the adequate personal protection like the famous figures who live in heavily protected quarters and protected by hundreds of bodyguards. While candidates like me live among the people and walk on the streets, in the past few weeks we saw several Iraqi politicians targeted and assassinated, but our participation was more important than anything else because it gave more credit to the elections and we're happy with that role."
My words of advice to Mohammed: don't get discouraged. If you are still interesting in pursuing a political career in the future, don't take the first "no" for an answer, particularly under these initial difficult circumstances.

1) the security situation will keep on improving, which will make campaigning and other political activity safer and easier in the future.

2) persistence pays, including in politics; consider all the setbacks Lincoln and Nixon experienced before getting where they wanted to be.

3) the political landscape in new democracies is very fluid. Political parties spring up, dissolve, reform again; configurations change, new alliances are constantly formed. In Poland, the centre-right has held the government on several occasions since 1989, but each time it has been represented by a new political party or coalition of parties. Of the politicians who were around initially at the dawn of democracy, hardly anyone is still around. All this means that an opportunity to get into politics is not a one-off but a constant.

4) Iraq-specific, moderate Sunnis are much in demand in politics; this is a great opportunity and it's only a matter of getting noticed and building useful contacts over time.

The next election is just beyond the horizon.


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