April 8, 2014, 1:40 p.m.
Afghanistan: Preliminary tallies from polling stations in Kabul indicate that voter turnout was high in last week’s presidential election, but also indicate that ethnicity will be a major factor in which candidate wins. For example, based on a sample of about 3,000 votes cast at polling stations in predominantly Tajik neighborhoods, Tajik candidate Abdullah ABDULLAH received 75 percent of votes, compared to Pashtun candidate Ashraf GHANI’s 18 percent. In predominantly Pashtun neighborhoods, this trend was reversed. While Afghanistan has a long history of ethnic politics, this year the major candidates have spoken of the need to transcend ethnic differences, compiling multi-ethnic tickets and campaigning nationwide. It remains unclear if this trend will be reflected in the national results and how large of a factor fraud will play in determining who becomes the next president.
India: The Indian general elections, the largest elections in the world, began on April 7. This first of nine phases of voting took place in five constituencies in the state of Assam and one constituency in the state of Tripura, both in northeastern India. Although the Indian National Congress (INC) is historically the dominant party in Assam, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems poised to gain ground. The BJP has fared consistently well in opinion polls nationwide and is largely expected to win the elections on a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment. Frustration with the state of poverty and corruption under INC rule in the country is also expected to result in a relatively high voter turnout.
Venezuela: An alliance of opposition groups called the Table for Democratic Unity (MUD) has agreed to participate in a USASUR-backed dialogue with the Venezuelan government, under the conditions that there is a clear agenda, that the conditions are equal for both sides, and that the first meeting be televised and broadcast nationally. The proposal comes after months of violent street protests against the economic policies and authoritarianism of President MADURO’s administration that have killed 39 people. The government has accepted the UNASUR proposal for negotiations, but has not yet made a statement regarding the conditions put forth by the MUD.
(Image Credit: in.reuters.com)