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Ruling Party
July 4, 2010 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Burundi's election, in three acts. It was literally no surprise that Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza won reelection on Monday. He was, after all, the only candidate.

Some other recent links on the Burundi election: 1, 2, 3, 4
posted by lullaby (5 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surprised.
posted by unliteral at 7:41 PM on July 4, 2010


T.P.L.A.C. !
posted by cucumber at 7:51 PM on July 4, 2010


This is Mefi at its best - a fantastic link I'd never have found in a million years otherwise. As a journalist, I freaking love a good story-behind-the-story feature, and this one was good enough I'd make journalism students read it if I had any. As it is, I often wonder what kind of seismic shift it'd take for Official Objective Journalism to finally cede front pages to real stories like this. Might just save the newspaper in some form or other . . .

And this?

institutions themselves have agendas, and those are often more powerful than the analysis of their smart field staff

Yeah. You shouldn't be a journalist - or a citizen, really - unless you understand this at an axiomatic, true-in-all-circumstances-unless-proven-otherwise sort of way. Hell, if anyone asked me for a one-line explanation as to why Obama's been less changey than many hoped, I'd consider it as good an answer as any to say that the institution of the President of the United States turned out to be more powerful than he is.

Thanks, lullaby.
posted by gompa at 8:12 PM on July 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is landlocked, its neighbors include Rwanda and DR Congo, and its major tribes are Tutsi and Hutu, who recently finished a long civil war.

A fixed election with a lowish body count and lots of foreign press coverage would be one of the better things to have ever happened to Burundi.
posted by pracowity at 4:53 AM on July 5, 2010


> This is Mefi at its best - a fantastic link I'd never have found in a million years otherwise.

Heartily seconded. For the tl;dr crowd, this comes after his explanation of the many problems, confusions, and other factors involved in trying to explain the election:
None of this gets into the news stories I or other people write, for two reasons. That this blog post is three times the length of my usual news article is one reason. But the other reason is that journalism is vulnerable to the same kind of complicity as the international community: Our professional assumptions give more authority to sources with power. This, too, is not a fatal flaw, but it is also a weakness, and often a blind spot.

Think about the characters in this wonky drama: The ‘independent’ electoral commission; a victorious political party whose clear interest in winning dissolves in the face of ‘objective’ international endorsement; and those international endorsers. Two of the three I’m supposed to take as neutral, without clear evidence to the contrary. But I don’t get to explain to readers that there’s reason to doubt, if not the actors (and that’s a big if), the game in which they are engaged.

So we’ll call Burundi’s election controversial. Irregularities will be noted and ‘learned from.’ The opposition parties’ refusal to participate will be regretted. Burundians will be congratulated on persevering through it all, at least until they don’t. And if the night of the election is any indication, grenades will be thrown, most people (“even the prostitutes!”) will be in after dark, and everyone will sit, torqued, waiting to see if Burundi “relapses” into rebellion. But democracy nonetheless.

That’s one way to look at the forest. From another point of view, it’s a tangled, messy jungle, and there’s just no good way out.
I love to see reporters engage with the inherent problems of institutional agendas, including their own. Thanks, lullaby.

> A fixed election with a lowish body count and lots of foreign press coverage would be one of the better things to have ever happened to Burundi.

Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations. Yes, it's great they're not currently having a genocidal civil war. That doesn't mean we should smile fondly at fixed elections.
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


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