March 11, 2014, 1:24 p.m.
Afghanistan: The Taliban have released a statement threatening to attack electoral offices, voting booths, rallies, and campaigns associated with the upcoming presidential election. This statement is the most direct threat issued by Taliban leadership thus far and does not bode well for the integrity of the election – In 2009, some of the worst vote-rigging occurred in areas where there was very low voter turnout due to Taliban threats. This election will mark Afghanistan’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power and could provide much-needed stability in the country as the military transition occurs in the coming year, but violence and fraud remain major concerns.
Fiji: Commodore Frank BAINIMARAMA has resigned his military position in order to run as a civilian in the general elections in September. BAINIMARAMA has led Fiji since he staged a bloodless coup d’état in 2006. The elections in September will be the first since the coup. Australia and New Zealand, who have imposed sanctions on Fiji’s military government, have welcomed the move, but some nongovernmental groups continue to voice concerns about the military’s human rights record.
India: The exact dates on which the Indian general elections will be held have been released by the Election Commission. Voting will take place in nine phases: on 7 April, 9 April, 10 April, 12 April, 17 April, 24 April, 30 April, 7 May, and 12 May. Vote counting will take place on 16 May. Large states will vote in several phases. The elections will be the largest in history, with 814 million eligible voters and 930,000 polling stations. Electronic voting will take place, and machines will include a new “none of the above” button. In this election cycle, the two major national parties, the Indian National Congress led by Rahul GANDHI and the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra MODI, will face stiff competition from a collection of 11 smaller regional parties called the Third Front. If neither major party receives a majority of seats (at least 272 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha), regional parties will play a crucial role in the formation of a coalition government.
A schedule of the voting days can be found here.
(Image Credit: bbc.com)