Abbas Wins

It wasn't even close:Mahmoud Abbas won at least 66 percent of the vote in the Palestinian presidential election Sunday, according to two exit polls.

Such a margin of victory would give Abbas a clear mandate to renew peace talks with Israel, rein in militants and reform the corruption-riddled Palestinian Authority (news - web sites).

Abbas won 66 percent of the vote while his main challenger, Mustafa Barghouti, won 19.7 percent, according to a poll conducted by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

The poll was based on about responses from about 10,000 voters and had an error margin of 3 percentage points.

"This percentage means that Abu Mazen will have the legitimacy to negotiate with the Israelis, and the Palestinian people will accept what Abu Mazen will agree on. He has a mandate from the voters," said the Palestinian policy center's director, Khalil Shekaki.

Abu Mazen is a nickname for Abbas.

A second survey, by An Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, showed Abbas winning 69.5 percent, compared with 24.5 percent for Barghouti.

That poll, based on responses by more than 5,000 voters, had an error margin of 5 percentage points.

I can't say that I know much about the politics in the region, but I have frequently been frustrated that so many people who do not even live in either Isreal or Palestine seem more intent on arguing over territory than seeing peace. The symbolic damage that the Isreali-Palestinian conflict causes to world politics cannot be overestimated. As long as violent images from the region are spread to hundreds of millions og people worldwide, a large percentage of the world's population will live under the very real threat of reductive identities and violence against civilians in their own countries.

The Iraq "election"

Why doesn't Bush send over Ken Mehlman and the GOP GOTV machine to Iraq, cause the outlook stinks:BAGHDAD, Jan 6 (AFP) - The preliminary findings of a new internal US State Department poll on Iraq obtained by AFP Thursday shows only 32 percent of Sunni Muslims are "very likely" to vote in landmark national elections this month and only 12 percent consider the event legitimate.

The survey, conducted from December 12-16 by the State Department's Bureau of Research and Intelligence, revealed major concern among Sunnis about the security situation in Iraq, with many saying the threat of violence could keep them away from the polls.

The poll, which has not been released publicly, found three-quarters of Iraq's influential Shiite majority, who make up 60 percent of the country, would boycott elections if called upon to do so by a respected religious leader.

Meanwhile, in everyday news that's too common to get much coverage:A roadside bomb killed seven U.S. soldiers in northwest Baghdad and two Marines were killed in action in western Iraq Thursday, the deadliest day for American forces since a suicide attack last month, the U.S. military said.There are only three possible strategies. Continue as is, investing further and further into the hole; try to let "Iraq" take over, ala Vietnam & these sham elections; get out of Iraq. A, B, or C. We should have never went in to occupy Iraq, it was a mistake, and the only possible end of this mess is to leave, and let them work out their own solutions. Totally unrealistic, I know, just like it was for those saying pretty much the same thing about Vietnam in the late 1960's. For Iraq, the only question is, how much longer?

May Election in the UK

Electoral calculation will dominate politics for the next four months... in the UK. I've a greater question for the political readers in the blogosphere for now, than who's going to win, and that is, which are the political junkie blogs to follow in the UK leading up to the election?

All the conventional wisdom is that Labor is going to win, and it's just a matter of by how much:

If Labour gets back with another big majority - say about 100 seats compared with the current figure of 159 - Mr Blair has a decent chance of fulfilling his recent pledge to serve a full third term, implementing an ambitious policy agenda. But if Labour's margin of victory is 50 or less, Mr Blair may struggle to keep his job... Labour's private polling suggests it is looking at a majority of between 80 and 110. But it's the "apathy factor" that could undermine Blair and Labor, with a low turnout. If that's the case, the interesting question is, Could the Lib Dems replace the Tories as the main opposition party, or is this just a pipe dream? If the former, ...it is May 6, 2005, and a chirpy Charles Kennedy, his party having doubled its House of Commons seats to more than 100, is striding up Downing Street to demand at least four seats in a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition cabinet, and immediate legislation to introduce proportional representation.

There's more...

Ukrainian Election Reversed

In the new vote, Yushchenko emerges victorious:The opposition leader Viktor A. Yushchenko was headed for victory today in a riveting presidential race that was marked by intrigue, charges of poisoning, fervent street demonstrations and widespread abuses of state power.

With 98.36 percent of the votes from Sunday's election counted, Mr. Yushchenko was leading Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich by 52.29 percent to 43.92 percent, according to election officials.

A final count is expected to be issued later today, the Central Election Commission said.

Under his leadership, Ukraine will move toward the EU, and away from Russia. Also, Ukraine will remain a divided nation to a degree that makes our red state-blue state conflict seem utterly trivial. Some of the Russian speaking, eastern provinces will probably seek autonomy or even secession.

Ukraine, Rigged Elections

Exit polls will be published soon from the Ukraine election. Western-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was favored to win, according to AFB, and a Reuters report.

And speaking of rigged elections, here's Bush-style Democracy in action:

The Bush Administration is talking to Iraqi leaders about guaranteeing Sunni Arabs a certain number of ministries or high-level jobs in the future Iraqi government if, as is widely predicted, Sunni candidates fail to do well in Iraq's elections.

An even more radical step has been raised, one that a Western diplomat said had already been mentioned to an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric.

It is the possibility of adding some of the top vote-getters among the Sunni candidates to the 275-member legislature, even if they lose to non-Sunni candidates.

Ukraine Update, Looks like a blowout:

Yushchenko, 50, took 56.5 percent of the vote in the new vote, according to a poll conducted by a group of pollsters including the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center for Political and Economic Studies, to 41.3 percent for Yanukovych, 53. The figures were released as polling stations closed at 8 p.m.

Diaries

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