THE BLOG

The General Election: A Decision-Making Moment?

06/05/2015 21:03 BST | Updated 05/05/2016 10:59 BST

As some of my readers know already, I hail originally from the MENA region.

And while it is quite true that I have enjoyed living in Europe for well over two decades, and in so doing deeply appreciated the myriad rights that this 'old' continent offers its citizens and residents, I have not yet forgotten the painful and brazen lack of democracy, human rights or fundamental freedoms that impact most countries in the Middle East or North Africa. No wonder there was a so-called Arab Spring over four years ago: after all, and much as it was mismanaged, abused, misunderstood, co-opted and brutalised by proxy powers, the original intent of those peaceful demonstrators was a moving quest for dignity (be it personal, collective or economic) and the space to exercise their rights as citizens of their own countries rather than as pawns at the beck and call of their leaders.

No matter how much Westerners try to imagine what ordinary MENA men or women have gone through since the end of colonisation and the subsequent period of independence, they simply cannot gauge the gut feelings of men and women who are forcibly disallowed the simple freedom of choice that we almost take for granted today in other parts of the world. Fear is a key word: it is the law. So are disempowerment and disenfranchisement.

This is why I am proud to be living in a country, and being part of a society, that can make those choices and tick those important boxes. But regardless of my pride, will the outcome be decisive?

The UK General Election in 2015 distinguishes itself by breaking the lock of three main parties on the political scene and by flinging everything up in the air by a plurality of not-so-easy choices. UKIP is gnawing away at both the Conservative and Labour parties, and making David Cameron puff up like a preening nationalist with a hyperactive political thyroid, whilst the SNP is causing Ed Miliband a veritable nightmare and prompting him to re-visit the biblical era of Moses (although he is purportedly not much of a believer) by etching his commandments on a stone tablet! As for Nick Clegg, and despite his glib public protestations, he will forfeit the principles of his party and go to bed with anyone who would allow him a few cabinet seats in government after 7 May 2015. Mind you, the Greens are also trying to behave like adults but without much success or even an ability to recall their facts correctly.

But am I carping too much or being too quixotic? I might criticise the overinflated promises made by the two main leaders who are desperate to be believed by the electorate. Surely this is not the democracy that Pericles would have fought for in ancient Greece? After all, I believe that the Tory leader is hiding nasty surprises for us after 7 May, whilst the Labour leader is too craven to state his real positions and the Lib Dems hanker for power irrespective of manifestos!

However, this is still better than the MENA region: here at least, we do our best and we struggle with our base instincts when they collide with our lofty ideals. In many other parts of the world, non-citizenship is the rule whilst citizenship woefully remains the exception! Subservience, not liberty, is what rulers expect of their nationals - often through religious or ideological bigotry

So no matter who wins on 7 May, and whatever kind of government the would-be-politicians manage to cobble together, it is a decision-making moment for me because it is healthier than in those countries where the incumbent leader "expects" no less than 95% of the votes in his favour. And woe betide anybody who dares to think or say otherwise!