by Henrietta Wang
Those of us who noticed were slightly surprised last year when it was announced that the Kazakhstan elections were monitored by a team of Chinese observers. After all, the PRC does not have a large amount of experience when it comes to organising elections. So how did the delegation cope? I found out when I met one of the observers, Guo Jingjian, in a seafood restaurant last week.
"It was thrilling to be chosen," says Guo, jabbing half-heartedly at a prawn. "I was so proud. It was just a shame I didn't really understand what to do." Guo was one of many observers in Kazakhstan for the election and found the whole thing "very exciting. I got to go to lots of the picking-who-you-want-to-be-in-charge places. People were filling in little forms there after they arrived. I think they were entering a prize draw, possibly for a ski weekend or a Jeep, as a reward for coming to say hello and say who the president is."
Guo and his fellow Chinese observers stated that the elections were "transparent and fair" and that no cases of voting irregularities had been discovered. This was, Guo admits, "mostly a guess - I had no idea what was going on and was a bit nervous about making a decision. But in the end a man with a shiny black car won, so I signed off on it."
Thanks to well-meaning experts in things they have no experience of like Guo Jingjian, democracy around the world continues its epic march to wherever it's going. Kudos all round.