It was largely in keeping with previous estimates based on what has been called the pervasive fraud in Afghanistan, but today the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that roughly a quarter of the votes cast in the September election were thrown out as fraudulent. The number is said to be about 1.3 million votes, slightly less than the 1.5 million thrown out in last year’s vote but a larger percentage of the overall votes cast in this year’s much lower turnout.
The preliminary results, which had to be delayed because of massive complaints of fraud, saw what could be as many as 50% of the 249 seats in parliament going to new members. So far it remains unclear who will emerge with strong blocs in the parliament, but President Karzai is expected to gain more supporters.
The validity of results must inevitably come into question, as between the massive levels of fraud, intimidation during the election and 25% of the polling places never even opening, the votes counted amount to only a pretty trivial portion of the electorate.
Officials warned that the results “will do little to alter Afghanistan’s system of patronage politics,” and in the end even the IEC’s rulings will be in question, as the group’s membership is largely loyal to President Karzai.