On air: Is a flawed election better than no election?

Afghanistan election

It’s the eve of elections in Afghanistan but even before a vote is cast, questions are growing about how credible the poll will be. The Taliban say they will disrupt the election and there’s been more violence today. A BBC investigation suggests the election could be beset with fraud and corruption after voting cards were being sold openly.

And there are concerns about a lack of women officers assigned to women only polling stations. So will people still turn out to vote? Is it better to have an election, however flawed, than no election at all? Fleming77 tweeted WHYS saying “better an election so the Americans can leave believing they have bought freedom to the country.” However pdxmike says “You can not have a meaningful election unless the citizens are safe.” what do you think?

The US Defence Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged Taliban threats to disrupt voting created a difficult situation, but with many more polling stations and several million more Afghans registered to vote than the 2004 election, in his view, the potential for a “quite credible election” is in place.

Is “quite credible” good enough? Is there anything we can learn from other recent elections that were accused of being imperfect — Iran, Zimbabwe, Kenya?

89 Responses to “On air: Is a flawed election better than no election?”

  1. August 19, 2009 at 10:20

    Democracy allows for the transfer of power without violence.

    You can not have a meaningful election unless the citizens are safe. Afghanistan can not protect her people. Would you go vote if you were told your inked finger might be cut off?

    • 2 Joseph from Russia
      August 19, 2009 at 13:21

      The matter which is discussed here on this page can’t be evaluated and looked through from the one hand woing to its difficulty.Certainly if we remove election system in any country (no matter what one) there will be a great deal more problems and difficulties in controlling the political life of this country that might as well lead to problems with economy, society and spiritual part of this society i.e. there might be heavier consequences. But taking into consideration the latest news telling us about some problems with election in certain number of countries we may well consider the other viewpoint , the other opinion on this issue that does suppose that countries don’t need election systems at all. So, there a lot of controversies on this question and thus this problem is certain not to be solve in the near future and only by one or few countries.

      • August 27, 2009 at 10:08

        Joseph, you are absolutely right. There are many countries which cannot accept democratic elections without overturning thier religious faith. Democracy is a system where elected representatives make laws to govern the people. But, according to Islam, all laws necessary to govern mankind are contained in their holy book, the Koran, which they say, are ordained by Allah. Therefore, an elected group of people cannot make laws in competition with God. This is undermining the will of Allah, or trying to usurp His powers. True Muslims will fight unto death rather than see their religion trashed and western democracy installed in its place. It beggars belief how ignorant or arrogant western powers are in trying to force their system of government on Muslim countries.

  2. 4 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 11:21

    “Is a flawed election better than no election?”

    That is ludicrous and again represents the double standards of the West. In Iran there was a loud outcry from the West regarding the “flawed” election and up to now there is no empirical evidence.

    In Afghanistan the West is sure that there will be corruption during the election but because THEIR man Hamid Karzai is expected to win they are prepared to accept the victory.

    That’s outrageous and the sad thing is we in the West accept this type of rhetoric. Where are the other leaders in the West? Does anyone of them have the testicular fortitude to oppose this line of rhetoric?

  3. August 19, 2009 at 11:42

    A flawed election can be a path to future good elections. In the west, we like to think of elections with having one perfect standard. We cannot expect from countries with a recent history of un-democratic rule, that a perfect democracy is installed. But if the Afghans keep their efforts up, then there’ll be eventually a good democracy.

  4. 6 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 11:54

    @Konstantin in Germany

    In a country where corruption is endemic and where Hamid Karzai is supported by the West a flawed election will only serve to reiterate to Afghans that the Hamid Karzai is a puppet and that the West cannot be trusted.

    It will be interesting to see if a candidate the West didn’t back wins, but that’s highly improbable.

    • August 19, 2009 at 15:37

      btw, i sincerely hope karzai doesn’t win. i’m convinced he’s a puppet. in case he doesn’t win, it may even give the Afghans more trust in democracy.

      I’d vote for the candidate campaigning on a bicycle.

  5. 8 Darren Capitanao
    August 19, 2009 at 12:08

    A “quite credible election” would be better achieved via lottery – who’s Gates trying to kid? Oh, right, he’s American so I guess any result is “good enough” for his purposes.

  6. 9 Mad Hatter
    August 19, 2009 at 12:16

    A “quite credible election”? Have we become Iranian now? Oi-Vey!

  7. 10 gary
    August 19, 2009 at 12:51

    Few democratic elections occur without some instance of disenfranchisement. You decide. How many flies need be in the soup before you complain the waiter? Or in this specific case, how many bomb deaths constitute disenfranchisement by fear. I believe unfettered participatory government has never existed in Afghanistan and tomorrow’s festivities will not be its inaugural occurrence. There are way too many flies in the soup.

  8. 11 patti in cape coral
    August 19, 2009 at 13:04

    Sometimes I think a benign ruler would be better than a flawed election. Maybe it is normal for elections to be flawed until a country has had more practice at them? I don’t know.

  9. 12 Taban Alfred David
    August 19, 2009 at 13:20

    in South Sudan

    That is fabulist; Afghanistan for the first time is going to have free and fair election despite all the booby trap attack in their beloved Afghanistan. Sure their will more booby trap attack but new leader is going to come and peace will come.

  10. 13 VictorK
    August 19, 2009 at 13:22

    There was less indulgence from ‘the West’ (i.e. Obama-Brown) and the BBC to the supposedly flawed elections in Iran. And we wonder why ‘they’ hate us for ‘our’ (i.e. Obama & Brown’s) hypocrisy and double standards.

    Elections aren’t an end in themselves. Good governance (including security for the civilian population) is the point. There’s no connection between democracy and being well-governed, but Obama-Brown, Liberal fanatics both, have made a fetish of democracy and will push it to the bitter end, however inappropriate and counter-productive it may be in Afghanistan’s circumstances.

    Besides, how can an Afghan govt be anything other than a Vichy regime, a puppet-government of collaborators utterly dependent on an army of occupation for its survival? Neither the Taliban nor anybody else is obliged to respect a regime that’s been elected in circumstances that strip it of all legitimacy.

    The Western delusion that a backward tribal society can be turned into Sweden or Canada through the magic of democracy is beyond pitiful.

  11. 14 scmehta
    August 19, 2009 at 13:52

    Afghanistan must never allow the terrorists to cow them down. A flawed system is better than no system; the same can be said for the elections. What matters most is to install a system for the general and future good of a country, despite the threats or any other odds in its opposition; necessary reforms can be undertaken later. Do we stop living for fear of diseases ?

  12. 15 Abbdulah Mango
    August 19, 2009 at 13:57

    Why bother with all this pretension ? A a few rounds of rock, paper, sissors and bang ; all hail the new leader.

  13. 16 Crispo
    August 19, 2009 at 14:11

    Is a missed goal better than the one that hasn’t been executed? Hell no, so why think a flawed election is better than none at all? A flawed election is simply no election.

    To me democracy seems to elude human nature given there are no ‘messis’ or ‘Ronaldos’ to score the goals. The ‘mid-fielders’ (or rather the frank Lampards and Geralds) appear to dribbling and wanting to score alone leaving ‘strikers’ walking the pitch(called unfair competition or one mans game), and we call it a team(here its called a country). And until we correct such flaws, the future looks pretty gloomy.
    There is a soccer term called ‘fair play’, i wonder how many politicians would exchange ‘shirts’ after a long game and even share a cup of coffee?

    Make no mistake for Kazai to receive little or a negligable scoff should he win, which is what will happen. So, do the west sanction him? If you think so, you are a dreamer, so, advantage Kazai.

  14. August 19, 2009 at 14:12

    The biggest mistake was the West attempting to export its form of government to the Middle East. It would be better if the Middle East was left to decide its own fate. At times, it is wandered if the Middle East would have been better under its monarchies since there are countries in the world that are officially republics but behave like absolute monarchies such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Azerbaijian, Syria, and the USA.

    • 18 Keith- Ohio
      August 19, 2009 at 17:29

      ….Except that the USA elects its leaders every four years or sooner? You know, like a representative democracy….Not a monarchy.

  15. 19 Formerly John in Salem
    August 19, 2009 at 14:32

    Absolutely not. When a country aspires to be a democracy it has to learn that free and open elections are the foundation that everything else is built on. When a large segment of the population is left out for any reason those people will see democracy as a sham at best and no better than what they had before. Whoever is elected will not have the legitimacy that only a free election can provide, and you will be giving a powerful weapon to any militant minority that seeks to overthrow the system.
    Whatever it takes, do it again until you get it right.

  16. 20 Roy, Washington DC
    August 19, 2009 at 14:38

    A flawed election doesn’t reflect the true will of the people, so if anything, it’s actually worse than no election at all. One side will say that candidate A won the election, which may be true…but the other side will say that the election was unfair, which will also be true.

  17. 21 Auspicious
    August 19, 2009 at 14:45

    No way!! A flawed election is just what it is, a sham and there are not needed elsewhere. The world does not have a place for them. Through them illegitimate leaders get into office, the world could have been a better place without them. Its time we do away with them.

  18. 22 Elias
    August 19, 2009 at 14:46

    A flawed election is not an election at all!.

  19. August 19, 2009 at 14:48

    The elections are important as this will give the opportunity to Afghan citizens to show that they believe in democracy and their support for a stable government. The Taliban will try to sow unrest and violence. Voters need to vote in droves and not boycott this crucial election. Of course there will be rigging, fraud and violence, but these acts should be expected especially as the Taliban rears its ugly head. The democratic forces will have to stand up to these testing times. Democracy will ultimately flourish. The Taliban need to be defeated thoroughly. The Afghans need to stand united behind a charismatic President, be it Karzai or Abdullah-Abdullah.

  20. 24 Tom K in Mpls
    August 19, 2009 at 14:55

    A stable government, one to grow on requires slow change. Nothing happens quickly in the industrialized nations. Now if you want freedom and/or democracy you need voting. The fact that they at least pretend to vote shows a degree of acknowledgment to this goal. From there, it only gets better. This is a journey of small steps. The key is not to quit and don’t loose what you have by grabbing for too much. Grabbing for too much is how bad dictators usually loose.

  21. August 19, 2009 at 15:00

    It’s better than none . Like the case of Kenya, Zim amd Madagascar. A compromise or a solution may be reached anyway.

  22. August 19, 2009 at 15:01

    Are international troops helping oversee and protect the election volunteers and workers? On the news this morning we saw men with donkeys hauling ballots though rough terrain. They seem like sitting ducks for Taliban fighters.

  23. 27 Grahame Shadbolt
    August 19, 2009 at 15:02

    When the intimidation is so overt, and even government corruption is so prevalent, the result will have to be questioned whichever way it turns out.
    If the cheating cannot be severely minimised the election date should be (slightly) delayed until a more viable method of protecting voters and eliminating cheat voting cards can be provided. The priority must be to protect the individual voters. Who can be expected to vote if they risk maiming. If it is possible to protect the voters by providing a heavy multi-national/peace-keeping/police on a town-by-town basis, different days if needs be, then why is that not being done.
    A valid result would be a major step in securing the peoples freedom. A suspect result means the bullies win and bad guys continue to be bad. The result must be trustworthy or it is worth nothing.

    Protection of the voters must be an essential prerequisite of the democratic voting process.

  24. August 19, 2009 at 15:04

    Yes,a flawed election is better than none at all,at least it is a start. I refer to Athens of over two thousand years ago where it all began. The Athenians liked it very much,they won it,lost it.won it again,lost it again,but democracy would not go away,it kept popping up. It has a nasty habit of spreading and once started it is hard to stop. So lets give the Afghans a chance to sample it…

  25. 29 Samuel
    August 19, 2009 at 15:12

    A flawed election is definately no election at all…it usually turns out that such elections are created to legitimise an illegitimate hold on to power, and unfortunately most of the of the time it is deliberately planned and orchestrated. It is born out of a fear to lose the hold on to power, it does not therefore reflect the will of the people… how can what does not reflect the will of those who elect be called an election…it is not an election…it an imposed selection!!

    Samuel In Kampala Uganda

  26. 30 Denise in Chicago
    August 19, 2009 at 15:22

    NO, a flawed election is a terrible option. The threat of the taliban would be enough to keep me from the polls. They need to have security surrounding all voting areas so the voters can feel safe.

  27. 31 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 15:25

    Elections by their nature are supposed to provide legitimacy to whichever regime that wins power. The fact that the elections are tainted even before they begin undermines its legitimacy.

    I really don’t think that Afghans will be pleased with a corrupt elections even though the West might be. What we continually do is to apply our way of doing things in Afghanistan and then declare it is right, BUT NONE OF US WOULD SILENTLY ACCEPT A TAINTED ELECTION IN OUR OWN COUNTRY BUT WE EXPECT AND WANT THE AFGHANS TO.

  28. August 19, 2009 at 15:46

    Hi WHYSers!
    A flawed election has no place in a democratic society, but I guess America’s 2000 woes put the fly in the ointment, in that regard. Stil, if the goals of the elections are to reflect Afghanistan’s arrival at the point of a democratic system of governance then the necessary institutional frameworks should be in place to facilitate this; whether put there by the Americans or they should have evolved, naturally, out of the country’s history. Based on concerns about safety and gender segregation issues, it seems Afghanistan has a ways to go before there can be a truly sustainable and credible self operating system of democractic governance in that country.

  29. 33 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    August 19, 2009 at 15:47

    The election that brought former U.S. President George W. Bush to power was flawed, but it was better than no election at all. However outraged Americans such as myself were about it, we did not vent our anger in violence, as happened in Kenya not long ago.

    There would be no elections in Afghanistan if the U.S.A. and its NATO allies had not invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The U.S.A. and its NATO allies would not have invaded Afghanistan if it hadn’t descended into tribalism, anarchy and violent theocracy, thus allowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda to set up and maintain terrorist training camps, which situation led to the events of 9/11 and many atrocities thereafter.

    Yeah, I’m all warm and happy at the thought of free and fair elections, and it’s too bad that it doesn’t look like tomorrow’s election in Afghanistan will be either. But better this election than the continuation of a failed state that permits and encourages the indiscriminate murder of innocents all over the world.

    We should never forget that the presence of foreign troops and the influence of foreign nations in Afghanistan is a direct consequence of the events of 9/11.

  30. 34 Larry - USA
    August 19, 2009 at 15:54

    Re twitter: ” Many Afghans telling us they think there will be fraud BUT they still want elex to go ahead . . ”

    That’s HOW MANY english speaking Afghanis with net connections out of a population of how many???

  31. August 19, 2009 at 15:54

    Furthermore, the threat of the Taliban is one part and, indeed, a big part of the problem Afghanistan faces and, ultimately, America. However, the threat of further Talibanisation of Afghanistan, at this time, is even more pressing. The conditions underwhich people live are a significant part of what makes winning in Afghanistan and, therefore, a successful election so difficult. How can the conditions of the ordinary people in Afghanistan be sufficiently ameliorated as to warrant a turning away from/ rejection of the Taliban and, thus, facilitate a democratic society in the spirit of development? While, it may be important to fight, sometimes the greatest battles are not waged with weapons but with constructive engagement of the human mind!

  32. 36 Anthony
    August 19, 2009 at 15:54

    It’s better for the party/person who wins.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  33. 37 James Turner
    August 19, 2009 at 15:58

    Democracy and voting is not a process for Iraq and Afghanistan. Their freedoms are more closely tied to their religion. We should be helping them developed that process and not force them to adopt out process. It can’t work for them, it is not a part of their being as it is with us!!! We’re trying to make them into something the same as us, and we are not the same!!!

    The election and the results can’t establish roots! As soon as the water and shade is removed (USA) the grass will die from harsh sun light and lack of water! It will happen in Iraq first, as we pull back!!!

    The only way to suceed is to build on the foundation they have! Religion! NO SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!

  34. August 19, 2009 at 16:05

    I think any flawed election will result to the formation of illegitimate government just as no election will result to a person or group of people forcing themselves against the will of the others. So, these are 2 wrong things you have asked us to select either.
    However, I believe the path to making a better election in the long-run is trying one. Gradually things will become better, but I would not consider a government of such to be a good example of democracy. Let the Afghans try to pursue peace through elections. They should not bowl to those who will stop at nothing to carryout atrocities.

  35. 39 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 16:06

    @Donnamarie in Switzerland

    Was the result in the US 2004 ELECTION proved to be false beyond a shadow of a doubt?

    Afghanistan is a failed state and the elections will do nothing to change that. Besides the issue of ballot boxes Hamid Karzai has allied himself with warlords all in an attempt to retain control. These warlords have committed atrocities some with tacit american approval under Bush and all deny women’s rights.
    Therefore nothing has really changed under Karzai, as someone said recently “same horse different saddle”.

  36. August 19, 2009 at 16:06

    The imposition of western ideas (of progress, etc.) on the Orient and everywhere else for that matter is neither new nor unique.Perhaps the point is that an election in Afghanistan is, in and of itself, an anomaly and, therefore, flawed by definition. The political, economic and social situations in America and Afghanistan are so radically diferent that there could be little ways to compare the two countries, beyond the “A” in their names. Afghanistan is a war ravaged and significantly under-developed society, notwithstanding its strategic and economic value to American security and other interests. A flawed election, however minor (?), in America does not suffer from the same problems as one in Afghanistan, as a result.

  37. 41 Rahim Salamander
    August 19, 2009 at 16:10

    The more I read as it comes down to the wire, the more its looks like an attempt to legitimize Karzai’s right to rule.

  38. 42 Robz
    August 19, 2009 at 16:19

    Hello All.
    I agree with Joseph from Russia,that elections don’t guarantee anything.But it is important that elections take place,so that the population of that country can move forward(hopefully).
    There is fruad in most elections,most of the time it is not enough to make a differance.
    As far as the Taliban are concerned,I believe the nations of the region they are most active in need to come up with a plan to deal with the problem.
    And the let the US& it’s allies play a more supportive roll than lead the fight.
    Rob in Florida.

  39. 43 saad
    August 19, 2009 at 16:22

    Well I think complete transparent elections are not possible in developing countries and we could not have true representative of people out there. It is start from beginning and beginning can not be without mistakes. This election might prove a step forward.

  40. 44 Lamii Kpargoi
    August 19, 2009 at 16:32

    This is a more difficult issue to discuss. It’s like being between the rock and the hard place. But regardless if the situation, no nation should ever be made to choose between these 2 propositions. Both are wrong!

    In 1985 the military government held elections in Liberia that were wantonly rigged. Our Western partners, at the time agreed that the process was flawed, but was at least an attempt at democracy since the country, before then had no culture of democracy.

    And what happened just 5 years later? Liberia was plunged into the worst civil war that the West African sub-region has ever known.

    Bottom line, never comprise with a flawed democratic process.

  41. 45 Ibrahim in UK
    August 19, 2009 at 16:32

    A military occupation by a foreign power is enough to make elections flawed and largely irrelevant.

    The Bush era had a mania for selling democracy to the world at the end of “daisy-cutters” and cruise missiles. Obama’s speeches appeared to have a more pragmatic approach allowing for each culture to develop their own model of government.
    Is Western democracy the right model for Afghanistan? That’s up to Afghanistan to decide and to struggle against all those who deny them the freedom to decide.

  42. 46 viola
    August 19, 2009 at 16:43

    The point of voting is for the people to exercise power. Disrupting the vote is attempting to prevent or remove that power. The Taliban, by disrupting a fair election; and corrupt government officials, by undermining a fair election, reveal their real agendas, which is either to take or to retain absolute power for themselves.

    Great gains are worth great risk. What’s worse, having your finger cut off because you were brave enough to vote or giving up forever your right to have a say in your own country?

    Good governance can be created if a populace is educated and civic-minded and rejects fanatics and corruption. Remember, even fair elections cannot guarantee such a society, but it does make it possible.

    One thing I read about the recent elections in Iran that struck me was that elections in Iran are not held to elect someone: they are held so the populace can express their approval of the real rulers’ choice. So you have to wonder why the people got upset. Didn’t they understand their own country’s government system?

  43. August 19, 2009 at 16:45

    Afghanistan Deserves a Fighting Chance!
    TEHRAN – Admittedly we lost our fight for freedom but no one can take the spirit of liberty, free speech and the right to speak out from Iranian youngsters.
    The Afghans are a wonderful people. They deserve a decent life, the right to education, nutrition and health.
    Women represent 5 million votes and if they do turn out, it will make a great difference. Vote rigging, violence and murky deals are part and parcel of politics in this part of the world.
    Whoever wins the elections in Afghanistan will have to abide by the democratic process but respect the wishes of tribal heads at Loya Jorgas.

  44. 48 Chintan in Houston
    August 19, 2009 at 17:04

    From the current news I am hearing/reading, there are several contenders to Karzai, and he or anyone else is more than likely not going to have a clear majority.
    Any government thereafter will be a coalition government with major power sharing and bargaining, which has proved to be very ineffective, India and Israel are best examples of those kinds of democracies. It is just an arrangement of convenience between power hungry people which benefits interest groups.
    And also the crack down on press from reporting violence during the election, so is the Afghan government trying to achieve good turnout by putting innocent lives at risk at the hands of terrorists? This is ludicrous.

  45. 49 takoller
    August 19, 2009 at 17:06

    The simple fact that even a pretext of an election is being held shows nobody has total power. You can debate whether they should have any degree of democracy, but democracy is growing in Afghanistan. Some have posted that a flawed election basically invalidates any pretext of democracy. If this is true, then many US citizens would have to say our democracy is invalid.

    There will be flaws as with anything. When you find them you fix them. You don’t wipe it way and try to start all over again.

  46. August 19, 2009 at 17:30

    Additionally, it is clear that President Obama’s foreign policies, certianly in terms of the war effort is hinged on success in Afghanistan. It, however, remains to be seen whether all Afghans are allied to this vision of stability inherrent in President Obama’s plans. Who stands to gain from the appearance of a democratic electoral proces in Afghanistan and what are the alternatives? If a return to the Taliban then, surely the elections are a good move. But with issues of security and concerns that the central government currently does not control at least 30% of the country, that confidence could be tested.

  47. 51 William/Sierrra Leone
    August 19, 2009 at 17:32

    a flawed election is a ridicule to whatever political ideology.they do not represent the legitimate view of the people. if an election is flawed it should be re-run till it reflects the view of the people. the power of the people comes heavily into play. if they people are weak nand cowardly then any jack or bill can rigg an election. in sierra leone during our last general election we actually saw people power manifested and that led to one of the most credible elections to take place in the third world.

  48. 52 Ed Evanko
    August 19, 2009 at 17:47

    Hummn Which is better? Depends on who you want in office, and which way did the votes go? If the individual I’d prefer be elected and wasn’t then the election is fraud; if it’s the person I want elected and is then that’s a near perfect voting system.

    Course as it is known it doesn’t matter who votes but depends on the person(s) counting the votes that really matters! We’ve even seen that experience in America!

  49. 53 steve
    August 19, 2009 at 18:08

    In what dreamworld can there be a nonflawed election? EVERY election has flaws. In the US, certain states allow illegal immigrants to vote. Allowing people who are not allowed to vote, is a flaw. No system is perfect, there is corruption everywhere.

  50. August 19, 2009 at 18:11

    Flawed elections are worse. George W. Bush is a prime example. He lost the popular vote. He won the election because of the archaic electoral college system (and a political supreme court ruling). It’s a flawed system because the people’s choice, Al Gore, lost. And look at the disasterous results: an unjustified war, torture, corruption, massive deficit spending, the worst recession since the Great Depression.

  51. 55 Bruno
    August 19, 2009 at 18:11

    no, absolutely not.
    The point of an election is to give the choice to the people.
    If this choice is robbed from them by vote-rigging, ballot stuffing, rotten officials and so on, there is no point at all, and you’ll just end up making the situation worse.

  52. 56 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    August 19, 2009 at 18:13

    “Elections without security is better than being under dictatorial regime that can takeaway your freedom of whatever kinds but gives you security U deserve”.NO SECURITY NO ELECTIONS..!

  53. 57 nora
    August 19, 2009 at 18:15

    The simple equation of ink on the thumb and the Taliban penchant for chopping seems unusually poor planning. More is being asked of voters than should be asked of anyone–to give up that which makes gives us human skills–the appositional thumb.

    To be asked to live with corrupt results often gives you wars and bloodshed. Like the US voters in 2000…

    Best wishes for safe thumbs all round.

  54. August 19, 2009 at 18:16

    a ‘free’ election is important in any democracy
    but as an american i have no idea what a ‘fair’ election looks like.

  55. 59 Eric (USA)
    August 19, 2009 at 18:16

    so your point (the point of even having the show) is – if it’s not perfect, give up, don’t have an election. then what? WHYS could have a show on the failure of democracy to hold an election……

    san francisco

  56. 60 James from Vancouver
    August 19, 2009 at 18:17

    No election is perfect. Varying degrees of corruption and conspiracy exists in every democratic nation’s election. In terms of the Afghan election’s credibility, I don’t think it matters much since Afghanistan is too frail to stand on its own at this moment, and its election answers not to its people but to the foreign powers on its soil.

  57. 61 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:29

    How can you go ahead with an election if before the election you find counterfeit voter cards?

  58. 62 archibald
    August 19, 2009 at 18:35

    The simple answer is yes. The more complicated response to the question is inane from the get go.
    Should people have a choice as to their regions destiny? Absolutely! Do they? Not unless their are others who believe in the right to choose that destiny.
    Every election and or act of choice on anything is inherently flawed by the basic fact of our humanity. We are flawed as a species, which makes it essential for us to make decisions together for the betterment of the whole.
    What we really should be asking is: Why do we in the want to judge those who are trying to choose their destiny, even if it means nothing to our immediate one? Support is far better than criticism.

  59. 63 Matthew Houston
    August 19, 2009 at 18:36

    Perhaps it’s the specific voting process which doesn’t apply to everyone. The first step should be to decide in what way people will participate.

    By working with Afghans to develop a new and better way of democracy, the Western world might itself find better ways to govern itself. In this way, even elements of the opposition would find participation as a way of transforming their enemy without violence.

  60. 64 Lew in Ohio
    August 19, 2009 at 18:37

    I think the view of some of your speakers are pollyanna at best. There is no perfect union, not even in the united states. If you read history you would know that our elections have been fraught with problems even as recently as the ’08. Maybe they view western democracy and think that everyone should be free of any distraction but in order to move forward you have to go with what you have.

  61. 65 Shekhar
    August 19, 2009 at 18:37

    Flawed elections shall oly help in creating a flawed system which shall be legitimised by the “election”.Before going in for an election the level of participation is a critical thing which needs to be assessed.The case in Afghanistan is a case wherein the best of the government’s intention shall be in doubt as it would be assumed to legitimise a government which actually is not the will of the people.

  62. 66 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:39

    Zimbabwe is a good example of voting in elections. ha, ha, ha

  63. 67 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:41

    True statement: flawed elctions will produce a flawed system.

  64. August 19, 2009 at 18:42

    What do Afghans expect from an election that can install an apparently legitimate government without seeing any concrete changes. From 2001 in which the Taliban were toppled, the majority of Afghans are still lingering in poverty. Elections can be meaningful if the voters can choose honest people to defend their rights and improve their living standards.

  65. 69 Shekhar From Bahrain
    August 19, 2009 at 18:43

    Hey there, Please do not compare Kenya Zimbabwe or any such country to Afghanistan.Afghanistan is much better as at least the current system has an intention to” try to hold a perfect election”

  66. 70 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:44

    Agreed: The Afghan election is just a Western gimmick to fool the world and the nation into believing that there is democracy.

  67. 71 Katya in Oregon
    August 19, 2009 at 18:46

    A flawed election is a terrible thing for a country, but what is the alternitive? If there is even a chance of viable results, the election has to go forward. If there is no election, there is not even a chance for democracy.

  68. 72 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:51

    @Shekhar From Bahrain

    Good intentions lead to hell especially when OTHERS are directing your intentions(allied forces).

  69. 73 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 18:57

    Democracy can’t be forced on a people, look at Iraq, as soon as the US withdrew from Baghdad on June 30th the city has been under siege.

    We continually deceive ourselves into believing an election will solve all problems.

  70. 74 Keith- Ohio
    August 19, 2009 at 18:58

    Democratic elections, although flawed, are very important. No progress can be made if they allow despots to assume power and control through fear and violence. At the very least, recurring democratic elections may enfranchise Afghans. The people have to feel strongly about their participation in government for democracy to flourish.

  71. 75 Vijay
    August 19, 2009 at 18:59

    Is a flawed election better than no election?

    Yes,in the case of Afghanistan it does,hiwever An election does not equal democracy,at the moment it is a mere formality a nicety,a fig leaf of dignity for the regime and administration of Afghanistan

  72. 76 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 19:20

    @ Keith- Ohio

    The despots include the Taliban and the warlords allied to Hamid Karzai so in any event there will be despots in charge of Afghanistan election or no election.

    Legitimizing warlords through an election doesn’t mean that they will change the way they govern(ruthlessly).

  73. 77 Chintan in Houston
    August 19, 2009 at 19:29

    I have faith that they will get it right someday, its never perfect adn it never will be. Even though USA is the oldest democracy even thier system its got it flaws.
    Let’s not set high expectations and treat it like batting practice, i know the stakes are huge but what other choice do you have?

    Good luck to all the Afghani’s, go vote, it your right, use it!

  74. 78 Bert - USA
    August 19, 2009 at 19:44

    There is flawed and there is flawed. If a few people are kept from the polls, maybe the election is still valid. If the ballotts are destroyed and replaced, that’s another matter.

    As for Karzai, it is not at all clear to me that the US should favor Karzai over, say, Abdullah anyway. I think all these claims of being a “puppet” are hyperbole, and deflect the blame for who is truly impeding progress here.

  75. 79 Drake Weideman
    August 19, 2009 at 20:22

    For a democracy to survive it requires an educated and involved citizenry.

    We in the US had that, for the most part, in the 1770’s when the majority of that citizenry decided they needed to throw off the bonds of a remote monarchy and institute their own government.

    The HUGE difference is that we did it to and for ourselves, we were not occupied by a foreign power and forced to adopt democracy.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan, democracy was imposed from the outside. True, many Iraqis and Afghans do want democracy….but many others don’t.

    If it was somehow announced in the US that anyone voting a certain way (or voting period) would have their inked fingers cut off, I for one would gladly sacrifice as many fingers as they wanted, and I would still vote, as would most of the rest of us, because that is the form of government we have all decided we like and need, and it is easily worth my fingers, hands, and life, to preserve.

    Until all the inhabitants of a country feel this way, democracy cannot succeed and, as other posters have pointed out, it will fail once the occupying power leaves.

  76. August 20, 2009 at 04:03

    i hope so much, that tomorrow won’t be a bloody day in Afghanistan.

  77. 81 Brinda Runghsawmee
    August 20, 2009 at 09:07

    I am worried for the women and girls in Afghanistan; for human rights campaigners; for non Muslim minority groups; for those they call ‘apostates’.
    It will surely be a flawed election but it’s better the Afghans have an election. In this way they will have a ‘false or fragile’sense of security that they have a functioning government however corrupt it may be.
    I think it will be good if UN troops replace US and UK troops there until the Talibans are defeated.
    The UN needs to encourage democratic and rich nations to invest massively in Afghanistan to build roads, hospitals, schools. Afghanistan people need to be educated properly. If the Afghan youth has a strong sense of what is good and bad for them and their country, they will surely not be easily influenced by the Taliban extremist doctrines.

  78. 82 Brinda Runghsawmee
    August 20, 2009 at 09:29

    Dear Sir,
    I hope there will be peace in Afghanistan following the election. It’s better for the people to have a flawed one than no election. It will be good if all rich democracies in the world help to rebuild this country, educate its youth.
    One day will come when the Talibans will be defeated. Remember: The Communist bloc fell after 70 years!!!!
    There is hope for Afghanistan. One day all this bloodshed will end and the Afghans will smile again.Then women and girls will be free.


    • August 21, 2009 at 08:45

      Please don’t bank on that as I have lived in a political conflict country where I thought elections would bring peace. After the elections, the conflict heightened to new levels with horrific brutalities for over seven years in which the elected government flew to exile twice. The only thing that ended that impasse was a political dialogue amongst the major stake holders of the conflicts. Let us hope and pray that the parties involved in the Afghan conflict could see reasons to resolve this conflict through dialogue.

  79. 84 Raza
    August 20, 2009 at 13:22

    Though there were threats, the people of afghanistan went to pulling stations to vote for their preferred candidate. They showed that they want peace and democracy in their country.

    People were very happy, doing thier cultural dance ( ATAN) on the streets and infront of the pulling stations. They have expectations from this election and hope that the new administration system will be able to end the current terrible conditions.

    Women could participate in the election, but in south, south east and west they couldn’t participate very actively. in Kandahar city, they could participate equally with men.

    They showed that flawed election is better than no election.

    Raza from Kabul Afghanistan

  80. 85 Nelson Isibor
    August 20, 2009 at 16:56

    No because a flawed election brings questions about the legitimacy of the government.

  81. 86 Dennis Junior
    August 21, 2009 at 03:10

    Flawed elections are not better than NO elections….Since, it will bring in more trouble than necessary…

    =Dennis Junior=

  82. August 21, 2009 at 08:05

    A flawed election is no election and in fact is a dangerous recipe for unrest. For a country like Afganistan which is still grappling with militants to have another disgruntled set of its population segment becuase of flawed elections, will just lead to a total chaos and catastrophy. I feel that a flawed free and fair elections in Afganistan could have been a strong pillar to cool political tensions between the government and militants and even serves as a country/community mobilizer against against any militancy. Well, maybe we are seeing another form and face of democracy (Flawed elections)

  83. August 21, 2009 at 09:18

    Elections in Afghanistan are just Hm-mm, what you call it? I had expected that election is one of the bases of democracy. I had also expected that since the US is championing democracy in Afghanistan, the US could have told Kazai that, “Hey man, you have served the equivalent of two terms 2001-2009 so you should step aside” but this did not happen. Kazai himself despite knowing that he has failed, his regime is corrupt and incompetent did not relent and give chance to other people. This is a trait of dictatorship and I wonder how he is going to uphold the values of democracy when he cannot even recognize one.

  84. 89 Asif saleem
    August 21, 2009 at 13:23

    The matter discussed here is of highly sensitive case.As we all know this is going to be the second time presidential elections is going to take place in Afghanistan.Afghanistan is a country where taliban is in massive number and they are rulling the area .Taliban are against democracy and they will try their best to make this election failure.As what we have seen the polling started with explosions every where in the county.How can people come for voting if they are not given security.There was also a rumor that these elections are just to show other countries that Former President Hamid Karzai has been selected by fair means but as we have seen that there were many reports of unfair mean usage .Even some polling stations reported that ink they used for selection is not of permanent nature.when the time of counting votes media people where not allowed to enter the poling stations.I think these elections are unfair and baised. The need of the time is the involvement of United nation to help Afghanistan to have a fair election and bring Democracy in action.

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