Though pre-election violence and attacks on election workers drove many international poll watching groups out of Afghanistan, the first round of the embattled country’s presidential election this past weekend was a success by many measures.
Roughly sixty percent of the country’s eligible voters cast a ballot in this first round of elections, but the size of the country and inaccuracy of many local polls suggests that any early figures on front-runners so far are spotty estimates at best. On Monday April 7, New York Times Kabul correspondent Matt Rosenberg told us there’s a lot yet to come in this democratic transition of power.
“It’s gonna be a few weeks until we really know the results,” Rosenberg said. But the one result known today is that elections went off so well.
“In the weeks leading up to the election, the attacks intensified, and by the week of the election, Kabul was a ghost town,” Rosenberg said. “Then election day rolled around, people got out to the polls early, and there wasn’t any large scale violence. Today, I’ve never been so happy to be in a traffic jam. It actually seems happy.”
While turnout was high, many observers fear that potential election fraud could skew the results of this first round.
“There is going to be fraud, that’s for sure,” Rosenberg said. “The extent of it is yet to be known.”
Ultimately, the high turnout and brave choice to vote in many violence-prone areas gives the Afghan government a strong endorsement, Rosenberg pointed out.
“There is a very good moment, but this is a good moment in a long, long conflict that is not yet over,” Rosenberg said. “We don’t want to go too far and say ‘everything is going to be great now.’”
What do you think? Do the positive results out of the first round of voting suggest that Afghanistan is improving? Or is it too early to tell?