Afghans vote in Presidential election runoff
Afghans will vote for a second time today to elect a new President; incumbent President Hamid Karzai is not eligible to stand again. On 5th April more than 6.6 million people defied the Taliban and went out to vote for one of eight candidates.
Today the authorities are hoping for even larger numbers turning up to vote at the 23,313 polling stations (6,365 polling centres) between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time. The Taliban have sworn to disrupt the process and may yet do so, but in April people ignored the threats and voted anyway.
The situation does remain tense. A week ago an assassination attempt was made against the frontrunner in the second round, Abdullah Abdullah. He survived and in the first round he led comfortably with 45% and 2972141 votes. However, his rival in the second round, Ashraf Ghani, has been catching up; in the first round he took 2084547 votes and 31.56%.
In a poll conducted by Glevum Associates between 3rd/9th June Ashraf Ghani had taken the lead with 49% of the vote to Abdullah Abdullah’s 42%. The strong rise in support for Ghani suggests that he may have picked up the vote of many of the eliminated candidates from the first round. The polling agency also suggests that he has consolidated the Pashtun vote and the Ghani/Dostum ticket has improved its support amongst the ethnic Uzbeks. They suggest that Abdullah has secured the Tajik vote but may have lost some support amongst the Pashtuns. There were, however, 9% of voters who remained undecided in this poll. The most likely guess is that the vote will prove to be very close so don’t expect an early result.