September 12, 2005
Although the recent Egyptian presidential elections were pretty much massaged to insure Mubaraks re-election, they provided dissident voices a chance to express some degree of legitimate opposition, while initiating the notion that elections can work. Its similar to what happened in the last decades of Francos Spain. Regular elections were common during that period. Although no real opposition was allowed in Franco Spain, there was a lot of room, especially at the bottom, for folks with minor gripes to get into office. The transition to democracy upon Francos death surprised everyone, left, right, and center. But a couple of decades of more or less contested elections (bitch about anything, except Franco) had established a pattern that carried over well when it became possible to hold real elections. Amusingly, the electorate turned out to be fairly conservative, too, despite dumping most of Francos henchmen..
In Gaza, Israeli troops left three days ahead of schedule.