Now, of course, the wait begins. With preliminary results not scheduled until April 24, there is lots of time for speculation and debate. While voters had there favorite candidates, at the stations I observed at very few seemed absolutely convinced that their candidate would win in the first round (for which 50% of the total vote is needed). Instead most seemed to be hoping for a run off which would take place May 28.
The areas we were in were dominated by Abdullah supporters (“I voted for #1” several voters told me, referring to the fact that Abdullah’s spot is located at the top of the ballot, though there were also a surprising number of voters who mentioned Sayyaf (the former warlord who most analysts (including us) have written off – this could also have been the fact we were in several towns that support Hizbe Islami, but was still surprising). Other reports from Kabul mentioned the fact that Zelmai Rassoul, who seems to be backed by Karzai, might not have had as strong a showing as could have been expected and must now rely on the force of his association with Karzai’s patronage network particularly in rural areas.