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December 19, 2004
They Threw An Election And No One Came

The dictatorship of Turkmenistan conducted a parliamentary election today, electing new members for its rubber-stamp partnership with the personality-cult strongman Saparmurat Niyazov. Unfortunately for Niyazov, his oppressive rule has made elections so superfluous that polling officials had to go door-to-door to get people to vote:

Polling stations were nearly empty Sunday in elections for Turkmenistan's rubber-stamp parliament, forcing officials to carry ballot boxes door-to-door in this nation ruled by a former Soviet Communist boss who has been declared president-for-life.

The 131 candidates contesting Parliament's 50 seats all represent the Central Asian country's only party, the Democratic Party led by President Saparmurat Niyazov. ...

All the candidates officially support Niyazov's policies, and based their campaigns on promoting the ideas in his book, "Rukhnama," which sets moral and spiritual guidelines for the country's citizens. It is held as a sacred text.

The act of boycotting the elections actually represents a remarkable protest by the Turkmens, who have lived under almost-total isolation and oppression by the man who styles himself the Father Of All Turkmens. Even the failure to vote can put people at risk in Turkmenistan, and the few people who commented to the AP reporter refused to fully identify themselves. The Niyazov regime survived an assassination attempt a couple of years ago, but if this reaction gives any indication, the populace may be ready to rise up and demand significant change at the top.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 19, 2004 1:10 PM

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