The 2010 preliminary results were announced on 20 October 2010, but as usual information, as well as an understanding of what that information means, is trickling in rather slowly. So far we have a series of figures provided by the IEC, but no answers on why they don’t match or add up; and an internet site that gives the number of votes per candidate, but no information on where the votes were cast (the results per polling station) or which ones were audited, recounted or disqualified (the decisions on the suspicious results).
So far, based on the 20 October 2010 press conference and the subsequent press release, we have the following figures:
17,744 polling stations were open on polling day, according to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), out of which 3345 were audited and/or recounted, and 2543 were invalidated. The press release provides some – but still not much – detail on when and why the disqualifications may have taken place: 569 polling stations were excluded after an audit based on problems with the results forms, and an additional 587 polling centres (each containing multiple polling stations) were excluded because “real voters did not attend the polling stations and centres to cast their votes in person”.
IEC chair Manawi further announced that in total 5.6 million votes had been ‘spilt’ (rikhta shoda) – a figure that was not repeated in the press release – out of which 4,265,347 were counted as valid votes. The total figure of 5.6 million is a huge increase compared to the initial estimates: first the incomplete estimate on 20 September 2010 of 3.6 million ballots cast, after reports had been received from most but not all polling centres; and then the updated estimate on 21 September 2010 of 4,332,871 ballots cast, after it turned out that more polling centres had opened than initially reported. The IEC has so far provided only half-answers on how the discrepancy can be explained, but none of them add up.
Confusion over figures is always a bad sign. It usually means that the information provided has only a very tenuous link with reality and it often means a loss of control. Let’s hope it gets clarified.
The IEC additionally announced that 224 candidates were introduced to the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) on suspicions of fraudulent behaviour. The ECC has already ruled on some complaints, disqualifying votes and polling centres (and in at least one case a whole district), but as far as we can see – without having the complete data – the decisions were not implemented yet. (For instance the brother of the mayor in Herat still has his votes, even though the ECC decreed that they should all be invalidated).
The IEC disqualifications, and the addition of the remaining votes, have affected some provinces more than others. Provinces like Farah, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Badakhshan, Faryab and Herat saw their result list change significantly overnight, as they went from partial to preliminary results. In some cases this resulted in the loss of seats for previously winning candidates. In other provinces the process seems to have stopped short of seriously challenging the success of local strongmen that were reported to have been involved in large scale fraud.
In terms of analyzing the list of preliminary winners and losers, it is important to remember two things. First of all, these are audited results. They have been announced after the removal of a large number of votes, which means that in many cases they do not reflect the electoral results as they were presented to the IEC. Candidates who are not winning now may have been in a very different position before their votes were inspected and disqualified. Secondly, these are preliminary results. This is not yet the list of the new parliament. In particular in the smaller provinces we may still see considerable overhauls after the ECC decisions start slashing more votes.
Having said that, we have counted 88 sitting Parliamentarians who made it back onto the preliminary list – which is not a lot, given that almost all incumbents ran again. In many of the smaller provinces – which are more prone to changes, due to the limited number of seats – only one or none of the sitting MPs are on the current list (one in Kapisa, Paktika, Paktia, Kunar, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Farah, Zabul and Panjshir; none in Nooristan, Badghis, Nimruz and Uruzgan). The smaller provinces with few changes so far are Jowzjan in the north (3 out of 5 remain), and Bamyan and Daikondi in the Hazarajat (3 out of 4 remain, for both). This fits the picture that the more stable provinces are less prone to freak results and the large swings that are brought about by low participation on one hand, and high levels of fraud and disqualification on the other.
Ghazni has an awkward, but not unexpected, result with all eleven seats taken by Hazara candidates; in Nimruz both seats were won by two women who outdid all the male candidates; and in Uruzgan the one Hazara polling centre was disqualified, which completely overturned the outcome of the vote. The vote in Nooristan – the mysterious province that did not return its results for the longest time – can only be analysed once additional information on polling station results and IEC decisions is provided. The Kandahar vote, like all past elections in that provinces, was won by a Karzai (Heshmat a cousin of the president).
Eleven women would have gotten into parliament without a reserved seat, as they gathered more votes than some of the male winners. These include three in Kabul (Fatema Nazeri, Farkhunda Zahra Naderi and Shinkay Karokhel), two in Ghazni (Nafisa Azimi and Huma Sultani), one in respectively Badakhshan (Fauzia Kofi, who received the highest votes in the province), Baghlan (Shukria Issakhel) and Farah (Humaira Ayubi), the two winners in Nimruz (Farida Hamidi and Fereshta Amini) and a kuchi candidate (Hamida Ahmadzai). All of these women – except Fatemia Nazeri, Shinkay Karokhel and Fauzia Kofi – are newcomers.
(*) The title also has to refer to the almost two hour delay after which the press conference started on Wednesday and the long ceremonial speech, thanking everybody who had made the election possible, before the actual results were announced. There was very little time left for questions and the proceedings reminded several veteran observers of last year’s press gatherings, which were during Ramadhan, were usually called at 5 pm, began late and ended immediately after the release of controversial results as the crowd left to pray and break their fast.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020