Speed Reads

Foreign affairs

Record turnout in Afghanistan election suggests that the Taliban lost

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

Free elections don't always lead to a vibrant democracy — the world is filled with too many examples to list, though let's pick on Egypt anyway — but they're a prerequisite. And an estimated 7 million to 7.5 million Afghan voters made a promising down payment this weekend, defying Taliban death threats to vote in the country's first democratic transfer of power. There were a few Taliban attacks on Saturday, but they didn't deter voters from turning out in much higher numbers than expected.

There will be some amount of fraud discovered, but if voter turnout was really 60 percent, as unidentified Independent Election Commission officials tell The New York Times, that's a victory in itself. We won't know who will replace President Hamid Karzai for weeks, but it appears that the Taliban lost this election pretty badly. For those understandably jaded about the state of democracy in the world, that's at least a glimmer of hope to start out the week.