YES, HE KHAN

On Wednesday, Pakistan heads to the ballot box for what will be the country’s second ever peaceful democratic handover of power in its 71-year existence. The election presents the opportunity to establish a more open and pluralistic democracy in a country historically dominated by the military and a cadre of elite families.


The presumptive frontrunner, Imran Khan, is an Oxford-educated former star cricketer, whose improbable candidacy has broken the stranglehold of the country’s two dominant political parties. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is currently polling neck and neck with that of recently jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. To win, a party must earn the 137 directly elected seats needed to secure a majority in the National Assembly, or else jockey for the post-election support of other parties.

But if Khan represents a breath of fresh air, this election season has been marred by something all too typical in Pakistan: the long arm of the military. Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports of the military influencing politicians and voters to aid Khan’s candidacy. A record 370,000 soldiers (up from 70,000 in 2013) are expected to be deployed to polling stations, and the military has been granted broad authority to detain anyone they deem has committed electoral violations–inflaming fears of widespread voter intimidation.

After the controversial ouster of the previous prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in which many suspected military involvement, it bears asking whether the powers that be are simply exchanging one favorite son for another. Pakistan’s next prime minister will face some serious challenges – from an increasingly unsustainable domestic debt, to a deterioration in relations with the US, to the ongoing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

But the most important test may well be whether he can set the country down a path toward a more stable and inclusive politics. That will have to start with loosening the military’s iron grip on power.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.