Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Electoral Process Can Be Dignified

Today, ballots were cast in Haifa for the election of the Universal House of Justice, supreme administrative head of the Baha'i religion. Every five years, members of all national administrative bodies of the Baha'i community, representing 166 countries, gather to elect the religion's Supreme Institution.

This process begins at the grassroots level, when Baha'is from every region elect their delegates who gather annually to elect their national spiritual assemblies. Subsequently, every five years, these national institutions are the ones that elect the Universal House of Justice. No electioneering and no lobbying.

Regarding the Baha'i electoral process, the following description was once given:
"The fundamental difference between the system of candidature and the Bahá’í system is that, in the former, individuals, or those who nominate them, decide that they should be placed in positions of authority and put themselves forward to be voted into it. In the Bahá’í system it is the mass of the electorate which makes the decision. If an individual ostentatiously places himself in the public eye with the seeming purpose of getting people to vote for him, the members of the electorate regard this as self-conceit and are affronted by it; they learn to distinguish between someone who is well known as an unintentional result of active public service and someone who makes an exhibition of himself to merely attract votes."
(From a communication dated 16 November 1988 written by the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Center)
As to the treatment of minorities according to the principles of the Baha'i teachings, the Guardian of the Baha'i religion, the late Shoghi Effendi, wrote:
"...If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the new, who either ignore, trample upon or extirpate, the racial, religious or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any Faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, Faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 28-29; Lights of Guidance, p. 527)
In order to get a glimpse of this unique process, please refer to the attached article, just published on the Baha'i World News Service. In this news coverage, one can read firsthand account of the proceedings of the convention as well some photographs documenting this momentous occasion.


  1. Nicely said, Bilo. I have continued to enjoy browsing your blog.
    Sincerely, Ned Walker (MasterKey)

  2. Thank you Ned for your kind comment and for your interest. It is a pleasure to hear from you.


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