Documents on Democracy

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 183-86
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The Philippines

In May elections, incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was reelected as president of the Philippines. (For more information on the elections, see the article by Steven Rogers on pp. 111–25 of this issue.) An excerpt from her June 30 inaugural speech appears below:

To win and realize our dream, we must all unite. We must come together by tearing down the barriers of social division and building up economic opportunity for the poor and establishing justice for all. This is the foundation of genuine unity.

Our unity as a people will be defined by a strong vision of a nation built on common values of hard work, shared sacrifice and love of country.

The unity we seek is not one of conformity but unwavering respect for the rules and institutions of democracy. A modern country founded on social justice, enjoying economic prosperity.

To achieve a united country, we need to face the deep divisions of our nation squarely, not only the truth but also the solution. That solution must engage all segments of society in a new government of political reform and economic change.

Our nation must embrace a vision of economic opportunity, social cohesion and, always and ever, democratic faith. I offer my hand and I hope it will be taken with the same faith.

Unity is not measured by how many political parties are able to achieve the accommodation of narrow self-interests. Rather, it is achieved by the harmony of sincere convictions based on our agreement on the basic requirements for achieving the national good.

We are not merely a group of islands surrounded by water but a country linked by the sea and unified by a rich heritage. We are not an archipelago of false hopes but a nation joined together by the progress we seek.

Our ability to unify will be judged by our ability to come together under a common vision that will erase the divisions that hold us back as a nation. [End Page 183]

The government must make tough choices, but this I promise: they will be tougher on those who have it easy than on those who have it tough already. In this way alone lies unity and not exploitation and division. We must include in our national goals the hopes and dreams of our poorest citizens in order for us to succeed.

It is immoral for the government to grow unresponsive, even corrupt, while leaving the poor without health care, without shelter, without clean water.

It is immoral for the foes of democracy to terrorize our children, paralyze our economy, and jeopardize our future as the poorest among us bear the heaviest burden.

Therefore, I come to you today with a mandate from the people to unite the nation and fight for change. I come to you today with a mandate to govern by the clear call of the sovereign people.

I look up to Congress to seize this moment in history. Its like will not come again. All eyes are on us. You have it within your power to transform the nation with laws. Laws that modernize our banking, laws that reform our bureaucracy, laws that strengthen the independence and honesty of our judges, laws that invest in our country and secure to our people the promised blessings of democracy, which are a life worth living, liberty worth having, happiness within eveyone’s grasp.

Arab World

On June 3–4, more than a hundred civil-society activists, professors, journalists, and political-party members from across the Arab World met in Doha for a conference sponsored by Qatar University’s Center for Gulf Studies. The conference produced a final statement, “The Doha Declaration for Democracy and Reform,” which is excerpted below. (For a full version of this text, see: 

Democratic change has become a nonnegotiable choice which cannot be postponed. It has become unacceptable to confiscate political and civic rights of the Arab people which under diverse pretenses have been delayed at a time when most of the peoples of the world, including a number of Islamic countries, have undergone important democratic changes. Experiences throughout the world in recent decades have proven that politically free multiparty systems inclusive of political freedoms are not the sole monopoly of any given culture or civilization. Hence any excuses to resisting or delaying democratic change in our Arab countries are but poor excuses. Neither Arab culture nor the Islamic religion are in any form or shape contradictory to democratic practices and values. Two-thirds of the 1.4 billion Muslims in the world today are already living under democratically elected governments.

The more recent history of some of the Arab countries during the last [End Page 184] quarter of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century proves the possibility of applying democratic practices quite successfully whenever the opportunity arises, notwithstanding the varying economic and cultural differences within these countries.

Hiding behind the necessity to resolve the Palestinian question before implementing political reform is obstructive and unacceptable. Historical experience has proven beyond a doubt that liberation movements throughout the world and democratic reform movements which grant people their freedom of expression are the best way to liberate the land and the nation. Autocratic regimes are unable or unwilling to deal seriously with outside threats and hegemonic designs. There is ample evidence that these same regimes sometimes are ready to surrender their sovereignty to ensure their own survival. Democratic practice hence becomes the primary rule for peace between nations and a prior condition for fulfilling true and real development. Democracies generally prefer peace and avoid aggression. Rarely do democratic countries go to war with one another.

We observe for instance the former Iraqi regime that tyrannized its own people and ventured into irresponsible military forays which ultimately led to the foreign occupation of their country. While demanding the continuation toward independence and democracy in Iraq by ending its occupation and the creation of a legally elected government, we denounce the terror that innocents are being exposed to in Iraq today.

Below are excerpts from the speech opening the conference by Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani:

It is no longer acceptable that the conflict with Israel or waiting for peace with it to be reached be made an excuse for justifying a slackening in the reform process, since the conflict has been going on for a long time and might continue for long. For the Arab wrath is not stirred by the Palestinian issue alone but has other internal deep factors related to the essence of political and economic performance in the region. . . .

It is no longer reasonable to claim keenness to protect the interests of our region and maintain that if reform was launched, it would destabilize security and threaten stability in the region. In the last few years, the Arab world has discovered for itself that the risks of nonreform are far greater than all risks that may accompany reform. . . .

The present Arab situation is fraught with tremendous challenges which indicate that the troubles and challenges from which our region is suffering are due to procrastination on reform and shying away from democracy. The successive complications of the Palestinian cause and the repercussions of the situation in Iraq are merely examples which prove that reform was an urgent need to which the nation did not pay [End Page 185] attention at the right time. So it suffers the consequences and so time, as the Arab proverb says, will educate those who have no education.


On July 11, pro-Western reformist Boris Tadić of the Democratic Party was sworn in as the president of Serbia. Excerpts from his inaugural speech follow:

Each and every generation sets its own goals that it must achieve for the well-being of Serbia; so will our generation have to set and achieve our goals, too. Serbia is about to take a long step forward to make up for what it has lost and to begin to believe in a better future in front of us.

The twenty-first century dawned with the conquest of freedom on 5 October 2000 [when the regime of Slobodan Milošević collapsed]. That freedom, though, is still fragile, still threatened. It is threatened by political projects that dispute it, threatened by the poverty of society and citizens, by isolation, lack of perspective, demagoguery and corrupt politics. Safeguarding the freedom that we have conquered is the first and the most important task of our generation.

I understand the job of the president of Serbia primarily as a duty. The duty that I have taken on your, Serbia’s citizens’, behalf. The duty to do my best for the well-being of our country and our people. Being president has nothing to do with belonging to a political party; on the contrary, being president transcends all party lines. . . .

Serbia has always been and is a part of Europe; we therefore have the task of making it a member of the European Union as soon as possible. No matter which party or which coalition may be in power in Serbia, the integration into Europe remains our common goal and our first obligation. And we shall become a member of the Union once we complete the building of democratic, political, judicial, security and market institutions.

The task of our generation of politicians therefore is to complete the work on the new constitution of Serbia as soon as possible and to leave to those who will come after us an ordered land, a land of law and justice equal for all. A Serbia with an anthem, coat-of-arms and a flag in which all its citizens will take pride. A Serbia with clearly defined functions of president, government and the parliament, with stable institutions as the basis of economic prosperity and a better life of all its citizens. . . .

Serbia therefore should be the pillar of friendship and peaceful policy in the region. . . . We are firmly committed to such a future, with a vision of a modern, democratic, and prosperous Serbia which renders its full contribution to stability in the Balkans and in Europe.

I believe in Serbia in which the president serves the people. In Serbia in which harmony, agreement, justice, equal opportunities for all prevail. In Serbia which cares, in which no citizen is forsaken and forgotten.


Copyright © 2004 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press