President Bush said he would continue to support democratization despite the election of Hamas in the Palestinian areas. Bush spoke Tuesday at a conference on democracy and security taking place in Prague and organized by Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet prisoner and Israeli Cabinet minister; Vaclav Havel, the leader of the “Velvet Revolution” that brought democracy to Czechoslovakia; and Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister. Bush said some of his critics “fear that democracy will bring dangerous forces to power, such as Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Elections will not always turn out the way we hope. Yet democracy consists of more than a single trip to the ballot box. Democracy requires meaningful opposition parties, a vibrant civil society, a government that enforces the law and responds to the needs of its people.” The January 2006 elections that brought the Hamas terrorist group to power were opposed by Israel and the then-Palestinian leadership, but the Bush administration insisted they take place. Sharansky has obliquely criticized Bush’s rush to elections, saying that a civil society needs to be in place before voters go to the polls. In his speech Tuesday, Bush said elections “can accelerate the creation” of civil society institutions.
Bush supports democracy, despite Hamas