Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

In Afghanistan, Political Elite and Arrangements Have Failed, not Democracy

Afghan people exercised their right to vote in the first cycle of presidential and parliamentary elections in post-Taliban Afghanistan under the supervision of the United Nations and international community in 2004 and 2005. At that time the security situation was better and the UN directly supervised the elections. Afghan people who were extremely tired of Taliban's religious extremism and restrictions enthusiastically participated in the electoral process so as to make the distance between Taliban reign and a democratic Afghanistan wider and deeper- that is to say- to move the country towards a democratic future.

The results of the elections were credible and to a great extent acceptable to all the participants. The second cycle of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2009 and 2010 was conducted directly by Afghan institutions and Afghan people. Both of the two elections were fraud-tainted and more than a million votes were tossed away in both.

Both elections sparked widespread and paralyzing controversies, which still continue and have direct or indirect impacts on the working of the whole system of the government in the country. Mr. Karzai still reels from the trauma of his own controversial election as the president of the country for second term.

The disputes around the parliamentary election are intensifying day by day, consuming the energy, time and resources of the three branches of power. President Karzai has approved the recent decision of IEC to unseat 9 MP's after one year and the parliament continues to resist the decision.

There appears no immediate end to this crisis. Afghan people are losing their trust and confidence in the electoral process. International community is wrongly drawing their own conclusion that the time is not ripe for democratization of Afghanistan and democratic consolidation therein.

But it is time to think differently and believe that it is the Afghan authorities and officials- or in academic terms, the political elites- that have failed not the democratic process. The post-Bonn process did not fail.

What have failed are the political arrangements that were laid out in Bonn conference. It is the overly unnecessary centralization of power that has not been able to meet the diverse demands of Afghan people.

Same is the case with electoral process. We know all that all modern democracies hold regular and competitive elections. Afghanistan wants to be a democracy and has to hold regular elections. But the bitter experiences of the presidential and parliamentary elections in the last two years must not be interpreted as the failure of the whole process. Instead focus should be shifted on reviewing the electoral system and holding to account the corrupt officials.

Afghanistan can have a more effective political system and electoral system. A decentralized power structure and a mixed electoral system could prove the notion and idea that Afghanistan cannot transition to democracy or that Afghan people lack the capacity to meet the requirements of a democratic process as wrong. It is time to go for these new arrangements.