Afghanistan Run-off Ordered
Well, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission has said that a third of the counted votes in the Afghanistan election were fraudulent and ordered a run-off between Hamid Karzai and second place finisher Abdullah Abdullah. Karzai looks unlikely to comply and nobody really wants a run-off, anyway.
So, as I write in my New Atlanticist essay, “Afghanistan Election: Now What?” we’re left with some rather unpleasant alternatives. If Karzai tells the commission to go to Hell and declares himself the winner, we’re in trouble. If we have a run-off, we’re likely not going to have this resolved until next winter.
Politico‘s Laura Rosen and others have said an arrangement is being worked out to allow Karzai to keep the presidency with Abdullah getting a significant portfolio. And, surely, the denial by both sides that this is happening can not be considered dispositive.
Further, as [WSJ's Gerald Seib] points out, “it’s also possible all this agonizing over the election matters more to outsiders than it does to Afghans. ” Not only is the central government less important in their daily lives that it seems from outside but, frankly, they’re not used to Western style democracy and may be willing to accept a few points of corruption as close enough. Especially since Karzai’s likely to win a two-way race, anyway.
But the United States and its NATO allies, already facing declining domestic support for the war, needs to have at least the illusion of legitimacy to work with here. Considering the bad alternatives on the table, a deal between Karzai and Abdullah, with a speech by the latter urging his supporters to back the new coalition government, may be the best outcome.
Bad options seem to be all we have these days.