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US Encouraged by 1967 Vietnam Vote PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Monday, 31 January 2005 07:49
US Encouraged by 1967 Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

NY Times: WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 1967-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times
(9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were
surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout
in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a
Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the
5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots
yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened
by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the
Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the
two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the
nation election based on the incomplete returns
reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State
Department nor the White House would comment on the
balloting or the victory of the military candidates,
Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for
president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate
for vice president.

A successful election has long been seen as the
keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging
the growth of constitutional processes in South
Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a
constitutional development that began in January,
1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal
commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu,
the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to
the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on
coups and power plays since November, 1963, when
President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military
junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most
having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of
power.


Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone
to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for
the last two years does not, in the Administration's
view, diminish the significance of the constitutional
step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able
to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long
lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could
have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating
widespread scorn or a lack of interest in
constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's
disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent
turnout. That was the figure in the election in
September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight
per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in
elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election
started to come in, the American officials warned that
the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the
polling place would be open for two or three hours
less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of
83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in
the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62
per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the
last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders
that a major effort would be required to render the
election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded,
judging from the reports from Saigon.

NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.
Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2005 07:49
 

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