Monday, June 08, 2009

Special Election Edition!

We have more pictures of Uzbekistan than we know what to do with. So here is a picture of the roof at the Registan - about which more later.

We had an interesting weekend here, but the staff photographer didn't come along. Elections swept across Europe, and your correspondent, wearing his diplomat hat, was an observer here in Riga. We zipped around the city, stopping in at various polling places, checking in, looking around, and then zipping off again. There are places in the world where foreign election observers have a decent chance of running into someone stuffing a ballot box or threatening violence against people who vote the wrong way. Those of us lucky enough to be posted to EU capitals are somewhat less likely to run into these problems. Not that there is no corruption to be found in Latvia, but this observer did not witness anyone being paid for their votes. Mostly, it was similar to what you might see in the U.S.: Some polling places were pretty empty; some had lines; some had more voters than they had apparently expected and the election commission worker in charge seemed to be on the edge of a breakdown trying to handle the requests coming from all angles - not least of which some random people from an embassy stopping by, necessitating further filling out of forms and signing of documents. Hopefully nobody dumped out the ballot box while we were inadvertently distracting her.

Of course we did note some interesting trends and could expound on the meanings of the election results, but reporting on that would border uncomfortably on our day job, so you'll just have to go read the extensive international news coverage of the Latvian elections to learn more.

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