People from Iraq are ecstatic because it's the first time they've voted in their lives. I asked a middle-aged person from mainland China if they'd ever voted in an election. "No," was the answer, and there was no speculation on when, or if, it might happen.

There's not much voting going on in Hong Kong, either, and won't be for a while. I saw an article about how "Many people in Hong Kong have been demanding the right to democratically elect a successor to their chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, a former shipping tycoon chosen for his position by an 800-member committee that tends to side with Beijing.

"But the Chinese National People's Congress Standing Committee said 'universal suffrage shall not apply' to the selection of Tung's successor in 2007 or members of the Legislative Council the following year."

Okay, so Hong Kong isn't bursting with voting options. But check out this reasoning:

"'Before 1997, the Hong Kong compatriots, including your fathers and mothers, had no democracy,' Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told reporters in Shanghai. 'Now, everything follows the rule of law, and this is real democracy'."

That's right: there was no democracy before 1997, but now there is real democracy. The Foreign Minister said so.

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