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Karzai By A Mile?

by Patrick Appel

Katherine Tiedemann once again rounds up the news coming out of Afghanistan post election:

Incumbent Afghan president Hamid Karzai has won 72 percent of the vote from last Thursday's presidential election, compared to 23 percent for his nearest competitor, Abdullah Abdullah, according to an early report obtained from a team of campaign observers (Telegraph). Though there are still two million votes to be counted, they are in areas where Karzai is expected to have a strong showing, and the scale of this 'victory' will spark accusations of vote rigging and corruption.

72 percent seems awful high considering the early polling, but it's an unofficial tally, Afghanistan is impossibly hard to poll accurately, and it's unclear how threats of violence impacted the composition of the electorate. Richard Sexton states the obvious:

With regard to the outcome, it is notable that the main Hamid Karzai rival, Dr. Abdullah, is claiming fraud, while Karzai -- along with the international forces, including the Obama administration -- has praised the electoral process. Claims of fraud are a staple response from the candidate who expects to lose in elections of this sort, a circumstantial indication that Karzai will be declared the winner. When all candidates know the process is flawed, the losers are naturally the ones who are the most upset about it.