The First World War was not fought for freedom

The Radical Antipodes or the WW1

was not fought for freedom

Here is a pub trivia question.

Which countries that were involved in the First World War had what we consider to be universal suffrage?

Universal suffrage being defined as all people over the age of majority (21 years in 1914) having the right to vote.

The answer may surprise you. It was only Australia (qualified) and New Zealand. To our Australian shame I should point out that Aborigines were considered simple and thus were wards of the State and we had failed to grant woman the right to vote at Federation.

Allies WW1 Women suffrage in 1914 Year granted Notes
Australia Yes


Belgium No


Canada No


Quebec women had wait until 1940 before they could vote in provincial elections
France No


Only exercised at national level in 1945
Egypt No


Great Britain No


in 1918 for 30 years and over, full extension in 1930
India No


Dominion of the British Empire in 1914
Italy No


Japan No


Some county level voting before 1945
New Zealand Yes


Pakistan No


Dominion of the British Empire in 1914
Portugal No


Russia No


Saudi Arabia No Not yet Considered part of the Ottoman empire in 1914
South Africa No


1930 for white women and 1996 for all citizens




Central powers WW1 Women suffrage in 1914 Year granted Notes
Austria No


Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914
Germany No


Hungary No


Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914
Iraq No


Part of the Ottoman empire in 1914
Syria No


Part of the Ottoman empire in 1914
Turkey No


Part of the Ottoman empire in 1914


Some of the values are based on Wikipedia and quick google search give qualified answers for the vote actually given. Examples are French women being given the vote in 1944 but only able use it in 1945 and if you were a muslim woman living in Algeria (then considered part of France) you could only vote in 1958 or in Australia real true franchise being granted after the 1967 referendum which recognized Aborigines.

It should be pointed out that full legal rights for women followed or is following years after the right to vote was granted. As a male it is embarrassing to think that in 1914 in many respects even in Australia a woman’s rights were marginally more than a child’s.

The paradox of the First World War was that it was not fought for freedom but that many of the freedoms that we take for granted came out of the changes that that terrible event created.


Gaza, The case for Middle East Peace – WEF


It is rare that you can see history happening. The above webcast meeting does more to explain the cuurent situation than reading 10 000 articles. It is a first class primer on body language. It is over an hour long but  if you have not seen it watch it all the way through.

It begins with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon describing the situation now in Gaza. Then it goes on to Prime Minister Reecip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, then there is Secretary General Amre Moussa of the League of Arab States and last but not least was President Shimon Peres of Israel.

I got the impression that PM Erdogan spoke from the heart. He discusses various things, interestingly he slips in a little detail about being kept waiting with his wife coming into Israel from having been in Ramallah. A lot of the details he describes how he has proposed and try to deliver aid to Gaza. The other hot button issue for Erdogan is the treatment of Hamas as a political party. Erdogan has been attacked for his Islamist views and threatened with life bans from Turkish politics because of it.  Erdogan’s bona fides are out there, he has helped Israel in the past and he is helping negotiations with Syria. 

Amri Moussa spoke in English like a true diplomat, this was the first time I have heard him speak and put his point of view across. He sort of warns Israel that they have to make peace this year or else. He made the telling quip that he knew that Peres would speak last and the longest.

Then comes President Shimon Peres. He sounded like he was at Jewish fund raiser, it was almost a rote speech. He pulled out the Hamas charter etc. He did not even try to apologise for keeping the Prime Minister waiting at the border. Peres does reveal the double standard, for Palestine, only Abbas is allowed to speak, but for Israel, Olmert needs the permission of  Knesset.

Erdogan trys for a rebuttal of Peres but is cut short. I do feel that Erdogan should have five minutes but the fix was in, the takeaway message was supposed to be that of Israel. With Erdogan’s walkout, everybody remembers him and then they want to know what he said. (All of this is immaterial in the age of the internet since the meeting can be intensely scrutinised. )

Israel, if you want repair relations with Erdogan then

  • Apologise for the wait
  • Do not keep any Turkish aid to Gaza waiting, expedite if necessary.
  • Release the women and children you hold as a gesture of good faith.

For any Pro-Israelis out there, at the end of the day Israel can do what it likes but time is against it. Don’t  blinded by the rhetoric, watch what your government actuallydoes and decide what you want for your children.