Haven't we been here before

Via this diary on Kos:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

According to the commenters in the diary, Lexis/Nexis only goes back to 1980, but you can find (and purchase) the original article either from the NY Times archives or from ProQuest historical newspapers, should you wish to verify that the article is legit.

The freepers have been feeling their oats on the left blogosphere for the last day or two--I even got one yesterday, and if a blogger as low on the totem pole as I am is getting boneheaded remarks, then you can imagine what's happening at the big boys' places. Lots of people, even many on the left, are glad to see what happened yesterday in Iraq--or at least they're mouthing platitudes about it. It's really hard to say exactly what happened in Iraq as far as the election is concerned other than to say that it looks like the overall turnout numbers were good for a wartorn country.

Now, what do we actually know about those numbers? Do we know who actually voted? For instance, MSNBC's story speaks in vague generalities:
The electoral commission said it believed, based on anecdotal information, that turnout overall among the estimated 14 million eligible Iraqi voters appeared higher than the 57 percent, or roughly 8 million, that had been predicted before the vote. But it would be some time before any precise turnout figure was confirmed, they said.
Emphasis mine. That's two points to make--their estimates are based on anecdotal evidence, and that they're talking about overall turnout. There's no breakdown of who voted where--and let's not even get into the potential for fraud here.

Before the election, lots of people, both on blogs and in the news media, talked about the danger of the Sunnis staying home. They're the big losers in this situation anyway, since they're the former ruling class under Hussein, and are a numerical minority. So how was their turnout? From the same article linked above:
While in some areas of the Sunni heartland north and west of Baghdad, including the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, many lined up through the day to vote, in other towns, such as Baiji, Ramadi and Samarrah, almost no voters showed up.

Sunni participation was considerably lower than other groups, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. That raised fears that Sunni radicals who drive Iraq’s insurgency could grow ever more alienated.
I'm sure that to many of the people of Iraq, yesterday was a significant day, and I'm glad for them, even though looking on from the outside, I don't think it means much, if anything, has changed in the overall scheme of things. Just remember, four months after that election in South Vietnam some 37 years ago, that election that was supposed to be proof that nation-building in the south was working, the North struck back with the Tet Offensive.

Newer Post Older Post Home