Oh we are so thankful for 'democracy'. Photo Credit: littlemissattila.mu.nu
The Guardian’s got a corker today, those guys are evidently good journalists.
They’ve got a video of ‘fresh’ ballots with nice shiny big blue ticks next to the name of Uncle Hamid, fresh indeed!
Moreover they’ve gone and spoken to a whole bunch of eyewitnesses that had less than optimistic things say about the “free & fair” nature of Afghanistan’s recent election. Ah, teething problems…
He showed me a series of photographs taken inside a brown cardboard voting booth in a village in Paktiya province of Afghanistan. One shows a man marking a big pile of ballot papers in the name of Hamid Karzai. Another shows a pile of election ID cards spread in front of an unidentified man wearing black shoes. “This man brought 120 cards and he used each of them to vote three times,” said the official.
“Everyone was cheating in my polling station. Only 10% voted, but they registered 100% turnout. One man brought five books of ballots, each containing 100 votes, and stuffed them in the boxes after the elections were over.”
In a nearby hamlet I met a fresh-faced election monitor who said he was 25 but looked younger. We squatted on the edge of a dusty field while he described how the fraud had worked in his village.
“It was all cheating on election day,” he said. “Each candidate had his men cheating for him in the polling station and they all knew the others were cheating. Even I cheated,” he said. “I didn’t want to, but when I saw everyone cheating, I put 20 ballots in for Ashraf Ghani [a former finance minister], and then I called all my friends in other villages and we collected more ballots for him.
“In the beginning I thought of selling my 20 cards to Karzai or Abdullah, but then I said no, they have enough votes.” He showed me three identical voting cards with his name and picture. “It was so easy to get those,” he said.
Chris Blathman has an amusing take on his blog, claiming to be “mortified” at the election mess but seeking solace in the fact that not-so-long-ago the perfect democracy that is the USA had similar sorts of issues. I for one think of Florida which really was not so long ago at all (umm… 9 years ago? 21st century?). So it seems the whole ‘democracy is not the perfect system but it’s the best we have’ thing is what people are saying nowadays about countries like Afghanistan. Then they say a whole bunch of different things about places like Palestine where people vote for entities, like Hamas, that the rest of the world doesn’t really like much. Teething problems indeed.
I often wonder what the point of this democratic adventure really is and why countries can’t be left to their own devices to figure out the best form of governance. Democracy (in the system that it is currently sold by the US), much like the system of nation-states itself that dominates International Relations, is entirely a western concept. Ironically then, when we do see dictatorships that abuse their people and misuse their power, these dictatorships have mostly sprung up in the context of the nation-state system, ie. dictators ruling their countries like personal fiefs. One can’t help but wonder how things would’ve been were it not for the Treaty of Westphalia and the scourge of colonialism leaving their seemingly indelible imprint on the world…