There is a movement afoot in media circles to paint the Iraqi elections as a failure due to low participation by the Sunni population. The idea is that if the Sunnis did not vote in large numbers that the election itself is somehow invalid.
But just last year in Kosovo, the UN painted a different picture.
UNMIK – News
24 October 2004 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his senior envoy to Kosovo today hailed elections for the province’s assembly, saying the high and peaceful voter turnout Saturday showed the public wanted to participate despite pressure from some quarters to stay home.
“The Secretary-General calls on all of Kosovo’s political leaders to respect the result of the election,” his spokesman said in a statement issued in New York after the poll for the 120-member Assembly.
“The turnout and good management of the electoral process, for the first time by Kosovans themselves, demonstrate their understanding of the importance of making their voices heard and taking a direct hand in shaping Kosovo’s future.”
Mr. Annan said he expected a new government would be formed quickly and would cooperate closely with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which has been in charge of the province since June 1999.
The statement stressed the importance of the incoming government working “for the benefit of all,” including Kosovo’s ethnic minorities.
While noting the low turnout among Kosovo Serbs, Mr. Annan praised “those who voted and those who stood as candidates for their courage in the face of severe contrary pressure.”
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Søren Jessen-Petersen, who spent Saturday touring polling stations across the province, described the election as peaceful, well-organized and a success.
Acknowledging that many Kosovo Serbs who would have liked to vote did not because they were afraid, he pointed out that there were those who did vote, including some in areas where not a single party had campaigned, and this meant that there would be Kosovo Serb representatives in the Assembly.
“This is the important thing: there will be representatives who will be part of the dialogue, and we will now reach out not only to all voters in all communities who did vote, but also to those who wanted to vote but were afraid, because they also share a common interest in the future of Kosovo.”
People seem to casting about for analogies to the low participation criticism. But why theorize? The UN provides us with a real life parallel.
The UN, always a good example of a bad example.