Courtesy of The Daily KOS:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :|
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.
Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.
Significance Not Diminished
The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.
The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.
American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.
Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.
Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.
NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.
Bush Hails Iraqi Vote, but Warns of More Fighting Ahead|
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 31, 2005
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 - Just short of two years after engineering the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, President Bush on Sunday celebrated a comparatively peaceful day of voting in Iraq, declaring it a triumphant moment in his effort to spur democratic movements throughout the Middle East.
"The people of Iraq have spoken to the world, and the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East," Mr. Bush said in a four-minute televised statement at 1 p.m. from the entry hall of the White House residence, after the polls closed in Iraq.
But he also warned that "terrorists and insurgents will continue to wage their war against democracy, and we will support the Iraqi people in their fight against them." Seeming to acknowledge the toll taken by the ever-growing number of casualties - including more than 1,400 dead American troops since the invasion began - he added, "The people of the United States have been patient and resolute, even in difficult days."
Even on the heels of Mr. Bush's re-election, the past month has been tense and politically risky for the president. On Sunday, the broad strategy of spreading freedom in the world that he described in his Inaugural Address faced its first test since that speech. But Mr. Bush has acknowledged that a successful election is just the first step.
With televised images showing jubilant Iraqis, filling out ballots and participating in the first truly free election in more than 50 years, Mr. Bush and his aides were clearly concerned that the imagery would add to the pressures at home to set a clear timetable for withdrawing the 150,000 American forces now based there. So even while hailing the accomplishment, they spent much of the day tamping down expectations, issuing reminders that the American-led effort to remake Iraq was still at a precarious stage.
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin