As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Afghan Elections As A Metaphor

The President has called the election in Afghanistan "successful." If by that he means successful in intimidating and defrauding the electorate, then I would agree.

Reports of fraud and intimidation in Afghanistan’s presidential election continued to mount Saturday, with anecdotal but widespread accounts of ballot-box stuffing, a lack of impartiality among election workers and voters casting ballots for others.

A particular concern was the notably low turnout of women, who election observer organizations said were disproportionately affected by the violence and intimidation.

Election officials said that all the reports needed to be investigated, and that it was too early to draw broad conclusions about the overall validity of the vote.

I don't think it's too early. Taliban militants are cutting off the purple ink-stained fingers of those who voted, and surely that had an effect on those who did not. Election officials allegedly pressured people to vote for certain candidates. Two candidates have already declared victory. And many women didn't even have a poll to use:

But women voters seemed to have faced disproportionate obstacles, election observer groups said.

Hundreds of polling stations for women (stations throughout the country were segregated to keep men and women from publicly mingling) did not even open in some areas where Taliban influence is high, but women also suffered discrimination and intimidation in some places in central and northern Afghanistan. Female candidates received threats and were largely ignored in news coverage of the elections, the observers said.

“The disproportionate effects of poor security conditions, widespread cultural opposition to women in public life and a number of attacks clearly aimed at deterring women’s activities all created significant obstacles,” the European Union observer mission said in its preliminary statement on Saturday.

The entire election seems marred by fraud, which is as you'd expect in a corrupt society such as Afghanistan. That further saps at the public trust in the central government, which the US wants to see in control of more than Kabul. The Taliban didn't engage in widespread attacks, but were successful in intimidating people in the areas they control. The election apparatus couldn't control the countryside and they basically validated a tribal, hierarchical society.

The elections basically were Afghanistan circa 2009. A mess.

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