Opinion: It takes two to tango (Clean elections, clean voting, no vote buying)

POSTED: 08/5/14 11:14 PM

It is of course odd, and for some unfortunate, that the election fraud case from 2010 was in court yesterday. The verdicts will be pronounced four days before the elections and they will have, no matter what the outcome is, an effect on the elections.

The question is obviously whether this matters. For the defendants the past 46 months must have been a nightmare. We don’t think that they had sleepless nights 46 months in a row, but in the back of their heads they knew something was coming. One of the defendants said yesterday in court actually that he was relieved that the case was now finally coming to an end. That seemed to be more important to him than the possible verdict.

We do not think that the prosecutor’s office is playing politics in the sense that it has manipulated the course of events in such a way that it could have the court serve a verdict so short before the elections. The ghost of political prosecution is a favorite of some attorneys, but it seems rather far-fetched.

There is an upside though – at least, that is how we see it. No matter how much we struggle with the undue delay principle and the way the prosecutor’s office seems to have the freedom to let cases (for whatever reason) linger like forever, if this case had been handled in, say, March 2011, everybody would have long forgotten about it by now.

With the imminent verdict looming, vote buying is very much on the front burner and that cannot be a bad thing. On the contrary, we figure that this will make more people aware of what is right and what is wrong come election time. We are not so naïve as to think that there is going to be a one hundred percent integrity score, but we do expect a shift in the right direction.

Many readers will struggle with the fact that there are four defendants in court and that the United People’s party has been left off the hook. At least, that is how this all feels. The party has not been investigated, but it remains now under a cloud of suspicion.

Whether this is fortunate or unfortunate obviously depends which side of the fence you are on. We have heard people say in the past, “well, they should not do this kind of stuff.” In other words, smoke your pipe and eat it.

This is however also an opportunity for a party under fire to change its ways, knowing that there will be more scrutiny than ever on August 29. One attorney said it forcefully in court yesterday: go and have a look, they are standing there with bags full of cash to distribute. Maybe not this time around.

It feels a bit like a cultural thing, like cock fighting. If we want clean elections, parties have to clean up their acts, but they are not alone. Remember, it takes two to tango. People who are ready to sell their vote ought to realize that they are committing a crime and that they could go to jail for it.

We think that jail time is a remote option, given the fact that the prison is overflowing and that there are hundreds of not executed verdicts to deal with. But a public trial is for some people already more than they can bear. To be exposed as somebody who sells his principles for a fistful of dollars is not something you want on your resume. Right?

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Opinion: It takes two to tango (Clean elections, clean voting, no vote buying) by

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