Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Pak elections: 2008

February 23, 2008

Well, the elections are ‘over’ and the results are out.  The people have spoken, and it seems they are tired of the military running the country. Fortunately, the elections went over quite well–considering the chaos leading up to the big day. 

 People were expecting mass rigging and random bombings.  What actually happened? Minimal rigging and ‘minimal’ bombings!!

What did happen was that voter turnout was extremely low due to the above two assumptions: 1) its all rigged anyways, and 2) it is too dangerous.  This lead to voter turnout of as low as 12% in many areas…so in that sense the election was not too democratic, I suppose.

 Anyhow, what I want to talk about is: How elections are rigged (at least a few of the methods in Pakistan)…the following few incidents are firsthand accounts I heard of the recent election.

1) Police officers (who are under the current regime)  close down an entire voting center and seal doors…then they sit inside drink tea and stamp voter forms for the existing party–all day;

2) Bandits show up with heavy weapons, walk in to the voter center, take the ballot boxes along with voter forms/lists and drive off-site–THEN they return with stuffed ballot boxes at the end of the day!

3) If a voting center has 3000 registered voters, on the actual day, there will only be 1800 that are ‘eligible’ while 1200 voters never get their chance, BUT mysteriously they end up voting that day!…someone else voted for them.

So, why was it not a mass rigging…hmm…well all of the major political parties that were contesting have won elections before…and they are ALL experts at rigging…so they were all ‘on’ to each other and anticipating rigging….thus, everyone had their reps and ‘bandits’ present at the troublesome voting stations.  As well, the attention from the international community (monitors, etc) had a huke impact on how things transpired.

 Now, what remains to be seen is how the next government is formed and what actions they will take against Musharraf.  So we arent out of the rough waters yet.

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Pre-election fears

February 16, 2008

On Monday, February 18th, 2008 the people of Pakistan will decide who they want to lead their country into the future–or so they say!  Election fever is everywhere…I think. 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning with clear blue skies.  We set out to conduct a land survey and ended up passing several towns in the process.  As we passed each town, the roadside stalls were plastered with ‘party flags and banners’ and HUGE pictures of guys seekig votes (mostly with handle-bar moustaches, because we were in rural Pak!).  This is the part where I would stick in a picture, if I had the foresight of John or Catherine 😦

Strangely, with only two days to go, I only saw 2-3 rallies taking place during our six hours of driving around.  This made me start thinking…and asking questions to the people I was meeting today.  The conclusions of my very un-scientific survey are as follows (drum roll, please):

 I classify people into two broad groups: 1) ‘educated’ urban dwellers and 2) ‘not-so-educated’ rural dwellers (there is a 3rd group–diehard party supporters, but they are insignificant in number according to my survey)

When asked, ‘So who are you going to vote for?’

Group 1: ‘Vote?! I am boycotting the elections…there is no one to vote for, they are ALL criminals looking to loot the nation–and besides the entire process is rigged’

Group 2: ‘I am voting for Party X’

Me: ‘Why?’

Group 2: ‘Because my family/caste has always voted for Party X, and my cousin/uncle/nephew is running in the local elections under Party X. Our caste generally competes against the other castes on a very local level–it is an issue of our pride’

Me: ‘But arent all of the national parties led by crooks’ (my ‘unbiased’ survey skills surface!) 

Group 2: ‘What do I care what happens on a national level, it is completley irrelevant to me’

My conclusions: Voter turnout will probably be lower than usual because people are quite frustrated by the entire situation within the country and have lost hope. 

I know, I know…you guys probably want me to do a workshop on ‘surveying’ at Skolls, but I don’t think we will have time.

Anyhow, do pray for the best, as people are quite concerned considering what has been happening here and what happened in Kenya.