Thursday, April 12, 2007

Elections in Timor-Leste II

On Monday East Timor went to the polls in the first Presidential and parliamentary elections since independence. While final results won't be known until next week, preliminary results are out, and show Fretalin's Francisco Guterres leading with 28.3%, and current Prime Minister José Ramos Horta with 22.5%. They'll contest a runoff election on May 8th. Meanwhile, despite the elections being declared free and fair by EU observers, opposition candidates are alleging widespread irregularities and are planning to challenge the vote. Fortunately, the gap between the first and second rounds should give them plenty of time to do this.

No word yet on Parliamentary results; I'll post an update when they come in.

Update and correction: Despite the Herald reporting that the EU has endorsed the vote, it turns out they have not in fact declared it "free and fair". Their preliminary report is here [PDF], and finds significant flaws in the legal framework for the election and voter registration mechanisms, as well as "reconciliation problems" at around 15% of polling stations. I've also been informed that the provisional results do not include votes from an undisclosed number of ballot boxes whose "vote tally sheets" were not filled in correctly. They'll be recounted, and this could change the result between second and third place.

If the provisional results are even broadly upheld, it will be a stinging defeat for Fretalin. The Presidential election is serving as a proxy and positioning for the Parliamentary elections (scheduled for June 30th; somehow I'd got it into my head they were also held on Monday), and in the 2001 elections Fretalin got 55% of the vote compared to the combined 20% of its three main foes. This time round, the numbers are pretty much reversed. With the anti-Fretalin parties (CNRT, PD, PSD and ASDT) agreeing to form a coalition if they win a combined majority in Parliament, it sems Fretalin is goign to have to yield some power.


Timor is a catastrophe - perhaps it is the religion - Christianity, the Christian culture of the place is holding it back untold, its people suffering under corruption, ineptitude and constant threat of violence; Same problem in other Christian cultures I've noticed - Fiji, Tonga.

Timor's former colonial master, Indonesia, thank goodness is making slow, solid progress toward pluralism, democracy and the rule of law and it becoming an economic power to boot so not all is lost in our region.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/12/2007 02:58:00 PM

East Timor is just another left wing fantasy that has failed. It was never viable as an independent state.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/12/2007 07:31:00 PM

Anon2: would you say the same of Fiji, Qatar, Brunei, or Iceland? They're all smaller - in Iceland's case only a third of the size - and yet no-one questions their "viabiliy" as a nation-state.

And that aside, I think its a question best answered by the Timorese - not by anyone else. If they want to make a go of independence (which they clearly do), then good luck to them.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/12/2007 11:53:00 PM

Democracy is always better than colonial rule (by Europeans *or* other Asians). I don't understand the politics of Timor-Leste but at least they're *having* elections.

Spelling note: FRETILIN (= Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente) not Fretalin.

Posted by Rich : 4/13/2007 11:57:00 AM