Posted by: Martin | November 1, 2010

Election suspense

An election that has it all

One thought: In terms of suspense this election really has it all.

There is a lot at stake, and the outcome is uncertain on many different levels.

First the actual real voting by the people – the first election after a civil war. This could be the first time the Ivorian people can really express their preference without any barred candidates or one-party-state-system controlling everything.

That in itself in exciting, but then there is also the possibility of election rigging (which isnt exactly exciting, but adds to the uncertainty and suspense). In some semi-dictatorial african countries it’s pretty obvious that rigging will take place, but here it is unknown. At the moment I have to admit though, that I might have overestimated the risk of vote rigging. Not sure if I underestimated the CEI/UN/observers capacity to prevent it, or overestimated FPI’s willingness or sophistication in doing it.

Then the election is a test of the UN and the whole international community’s capacity to handle the election. So far they seem to be doing a great job, but it’s still an open question how the UN will handle a deteriorated situation with accusations of fraud and armed people from multiple camps in the streets.

Lessons from Poltava

Which brings me to the military aspect of it. I’m used to analysing Swedish elections and, well,  the military aspect there  is mostly about which block wants to make the biggest cuts in  the defense budget.  The last time the military was used to defend Sweden (or attack the neighbours) was in the Napoleonic wars.   Thinking about it, there is actually a bit of a debate on whether to bring back our small troop contigency from Afghanistan or not.

Anyway, In the Ivory Coast I think I can count up to five or six distinct armed groups with different command and objectives:

The UN force

The French forces (admittedly with objectives close to those of the UN)

The Rebel forces (Yes, I know they are supposed to be integrated in the army or disarmed, but I have a feeling they can change that pretty quickly)

The Regular army and security forces

Pro Gbagbo militia and possibly anti-Gbagbo militia as well

Well, hopefully I won’t have to dig any deeper into the military aspects.

 

The Swedish army attacking the neighbours. Poltava, Russia, 1709 (present day Ukraine). Didn't quite work out.

In fact, the Russians still use the expression “being beaten like a Swede in Poltava”. Though, at a visit in Belarus a few people told me – that while being proud of their history –  they wish they’d lost so they would have been born in Sweden instead of Belarus.
Peaceful economic development 1 – Military glory 0

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