The elections today in Somaliland were remarkably peaceful and orderly. Observers hardly remarked any irregularity. Participation rates seem to be high. In and around Hargeisa an estimated 80-90% of registered voters cast their vote. Queues were orderly and polling staff, party observers and police appeared to fulfill their tasks professionally.
It is widely expected that the ruling Kulmiye party, whose current President Silanyo is stepping down, will win the popular vote, but the main opposition party, Wadani, could come a close second. The other party in this constitutionally-fixed three party system, UCID, will certainly come last. The results are expected to be announced around November 17 or 18; until then, social media is cut off.
Democratic elections may be most interesting at the fringes of the democratic world. Whereas elections in Europe only become slightly exciting when lunatics or dangerous nationalistic movements participate, here in Somaliland the upcoming presidential elections of 13/11 are an uplifting experience.
I am the first to rail about ‘elections without democratization’ and the imposition of the model of representative elections (which is arguably starting to fail in the West) on developing countries under the ‘There Is No Alternatiive’ motto, stifling local political forms and vitality.
Nonetheless the electoral campaign here in Somaliland is stirring up a positive mood in society. I have even decided to stay in Hargeisa during the elections and may be part an Electoral Observation Mission.
Street scene in village between Derik and Qamishlo
My first impression in Rojava, the autonomous Kurdish area in northeastern Syria, is that everything seems quite normal. For a small region still engaged in the fight against the Islamic State (although only three people die on the front per day, as compared to 20-30 a few months ago) and in the stranglehold of Erdogan’s Turkey, the area is remarkably quiet, and even seems prosperous, with shops full of goods and the fields and herds well-tended to.