How to Save the Afghan Election: Afghan politics rarely reward gracious losers and public demonstrations, along with the use of violence, are well-worn negotiating tactics. As Anna Larson and Noah Coburn point out, protests against fraud are particularly common. By negating the electoral process, failed candidates distract from their own inability to come out on top. It's a self-defeating and dangerous strategy. Nonetheless, the very real possibility that protests could have turned violent played on the international community's fears of the process going off the rails and increased media coverage of Abdullah's grievances.
In my conversations with Afghan friends and colleagues in Kabul over the past few days, no one disputes that there has been widespread fraud and many are disillusioned with the way the process has played out. Few think the accusations should be brushed under the rug. But they also think it is up to the election bodies, with the international community's support, to investigate and address discrepancies -- however long it takes.