Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Good Day For Democracy

Voting stations have now closed throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and although the different election monitoring organisation will not provide their respective assesments until tomorrow afternoon - it takes time to process all the detailed data - some preliminary observations are certainly possible.

It was a joyful, calm and well-organized day wherever I and my team of observers went - and that seems to have been the general impression.

In a way, this is hardly surprising. After the presidential elections last January, one has since then also had local elections practically everywhere.

To run elections in a proper way is starting to become routine in Palestine - and that's truly unique throughout the Arab world.

After first having gone with President Carter to a polling stations just outside East Jerusalem - the same we went to a year ago - I have spent most of my time in the area northwest and west of the city of Ramallah, often close or on the other side of the famous "separation barrier" Israel is building.

It's been a day of observering, chatting with election officials, drinking coffe with schoolteachers, comparing note with other observers, mingling with flag-waving young boys and maneuvering the small roads along the hills and valleys of a land holy to so many.

And then some media interviews on top of that.

Now back in Jerusalem I'm heading for a meeting with Senator Biden from the US to compare notes and impressions.

Still waiting for the first exit polls...

psr-Ramallah, Palestine