|Turkmenstani voters examine a billboard showing the 8 Presidential candidates.|
Last year President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in a bid to promote multiparty democracy, had opened up the field to other candidates and parties. However, the opposition candidates who filed were either disqualified or ignored, although one poor fellow got himself tossed in jail for his troubles.
The 7 candidates who eventually ran against the Arkadag are all low level provincial bureaucrats in his employ. Knowing which side their bread is buttered on, their campaign stops consisted of patriotic songs praising Berdimuhamedov, and stump speeches extolling his virtues as a President.
Hmmm... come to think of it, that's kind of like Rosanne Barr announcing her candidacy for the Green Party by all but endorsing her opponent Jill Stein. It must be the latest political fad. One can only hope that Romney, or whoever wins the Republican nomination, doesn't campaign from a limousine plastered with 'Obama in 2012' bumper stickers.
Lest you cynics out there think there was something fishy about the vote totals, the election was monitored by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). That's some sort of international body slapped together by the Russians in case you're wondering who they are. Anyway, their executive secretary Sergei Lebedev said there were only minor voting irregularities and that the election complied with democratic norms.
Call me crazy if you must, but I'm guessing that Lebedev and I have different notions of what a democratic norm is.