GUEST BLOG: Not Just Any Polling Station
The first guest blog from Andrew Ross asks us to count our blessings in the run up to the 2010 General Election
12 April 2010
Throughout the MyWar exhibition, FACT will be publishing guest blog posts from looking at war and politics in the media. Andrew Ross is a, "23 year-old, MA student in Politics and Cinema..."\r\n
Well as Mr. Brown said himself, the worst kept secret in British politics is out, the general election shall be held this May, and if you haven’t heard, it’s on the 6th. Noticeably in the preamble to the election campaigning proper all party leaders set out their vision, and all oratories contained a sizable reference to war, and indeed conflict. Many conflict-related topics are considered ‘sexy’ (yes I hate it, but it's true) – and in this election, terrorism has been acknowledged as a vote winner - but however, what is not usually considered worth talking about are the elections and referenda within this conflict.
An Asia Foundation survey released last autumn showed that the majority of Afghans have confidence in their parliament. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for this May, but now have been suspended until late September, and many international observers are predicting a bloody and unfair election season marred by assassinations of candidates, stuffed ballot boxes, and attacks on local and international election monitors. Indeed, the United States and United Kingdom campaigned heavily for the cancellation of Afghanistan’s 2010 parliamentary elections. Diplomats from both countries are gripped with fears of another fraud-ridden and potentially bloody election day if voters go to the polls just as the American troop surge is getting underway, and importantly, (yes perhaps I am being cynical), the 22nd of May as an election date would have given the newly elected government of the United Kingdom more food for thought than they probably wanted in their first weeks in office.
The Afghan government is also struggling to raise the cash necessary to pay for the elections, now just five months away, and international donors are wary after last August’s fiasco of a presidential election. If the elections go smoothly, it will be a shot in the arm to the interconnected security and democratization processes, but pulling them off without a de-legitimizing amount of corruption and violence will require the international community to act fast and coordinate better than it has before.
The presidential elections of last year are still fresh in the memory of all concerned, and highlights how throughout conflict, and war, elections still take place. This is no more than an attempt to legitimize the democratization of the country, at the same time as being a logistical nightmare, both for the military, politicians and electorate alike. Here is a great account of how in 2005, elections were very different in Afghanistan, from Russell Storing, a sergeant with the Canadian Army posted to the country over the conflict – and this offers a great personal take on elections, for which the majority of are as part of our lives as waking up, and going to sleep to following night.
Therefore, lest we forget, in addition to Afghanistan, the people Sudan will also go to the polls this weekend, as already the people of Iraq and Palestine have done this year, and whilst many of us may sit and wonder what a percentage of tax here and there may mean to our lives, attention should not fall away from these peoples ballots in elections that could easily trigger, escalate or help resolve conflicts in which we, in many ways, are greatly involved.