It seems to me the international media’s consensus is that Ramos-Horta will win, given that he has the support of six of the defeated candidates. (James Dunn complained on his online journal that the international media seem to be biased towards Fretilin. I guess I’m missing just what coverage he is referring to?)
I predict it will be pretty close. [Well closer than the common wisdom has it.]
Following the little coverage available of the second round campaigning, and based on results from the first round, it becomes clear that rural turnout will be everything for Fretilin. If in strongholds they get high turnout, and in skeptical, opposition areas there is low turnout, then Lu Olo has a chance to come close.
Lu Olo needs extraordinarily high turnouts in the east (Lautem, Viqueque and Baucau), and in long-time pockets of Fretilin support like in certain areas of Covalima and Manufahi.
The TVTL Debate between Lu Olo and Ramos Horta, only seen in Dili, will have convinced few people to support Lu Olo. So I continue to believe a low turnout in Dili will also benefit Lu Olo.
Ramos Horta’s problem is convincing disillusioned people in remoter areas, especially those who may have supported Lasama and Xavier, to get to the polls. Another concern is to make sure that urban youth (let’s call them the J-Lo demographic) and growing non-Fretilin “middle class” (the Leader/Lita demographic) vote again on May 9.
Then the issue of a technically sound and secure vote is quite worrying, as it can affect turnout quite significantly.
The UN Certification Team pointed of a number of quite troubling areas, citing over 20 benchmarks not met. Among them:
Do all voters have secure access to polling stations, and are polling stations sufficiently well managed to enable voters to vote in an efficient and timely way?
Are voters able to cast a secret ballot, without fear of any adverse consequences?
They write, “The benchmarks do not represent an aspirational statement of unachievable best practice: they simply encapsulate what is to be found in a typical well-run election.”
Let’s hope that the CNE pulls off a better election (so we don’t have to go through another complex Certification Team report!) and that both candidates keep the campaigning cool as it has been in the past two weeks.
If both things occur, I can attest that Timor’s election will have been more pleasant than a US Presidential election.