The very preliminary results issued by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission today show that with 10% of the ballots in, incumbent President Hamid Karzai has a narrow lead of challenger Abdullah Abdullah, 40.6% to 38.7%.
The count provides very little indication of what the final results will be when the other 90% come in, but was interesting in contrast to previous comments. Finance Minister Zakhilwal declared yesterday that Karzai had won a “clear mandate” of at least 68% of the vote.
Raw polling data obtained by the media had likewise predicted a landslide victory for the incumbent, besting Abdullah 72% to 23% in a vote marred by hundreds of cases of voting irregularities and reports of massive ballot stuffing on behalf of the president.
Making this early data particularly unusual is that Karzai’s results were roughly in keeping with two national polls taken just before the election (though Abdullah’s toll was markedly higher), and falling well short of the 50% needed to prevent a runoff. It was unclear where the 10% came from, however, so any attempt to guess what it means for the final result or for the allegations of fraud are premature, at best.