Le Figaro is the major French conservative daily. In its September 19, 2005 edition, it expressed its satisfaction for the “success of the first Afghan parliamentary elections”. As most of its equals, the daily illustrated its words with the picture of a woman dressed in a burkha and exercising the right to vote.
However, the daily admitted in the article that the participation rate in the elections was one third lower than the presidential ballot; that political parties had not been authorized to nominate candidates; that there were candidates who were removed or registered fraudulently; that most voters ignored the goal of the ballot; that since many of them were unable to read, they could not properly use their several paged voting papers, and so forth.
So, the “success” was that “the Taliban could not boycott the voting” and that elections could be carried through.
However, this is a false argument: The Taliban is no longer an organized group and it did not call a boycott on the polls. Even some dignitaries of the old regime attended the elections. So, the former Taliban Minister of Foreign Relations could have a seat in the Chamber.
On the other hand, we don’t very clearly understand why the exhibition of an illiterate woman in burkha voting at random could be a democratic step forward. The hope was, and this was one pretext for the war, that the first democratic step would be to set women free and give them access to literacy.