Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Electoral Malpractices: As a Major Barrier to Democratic Consolidation in Afghanistan

It is a universally accepted fact that elections have become a tool for the eliminating authoritarianism; in other words, it is an instrument for a transition to democracy in the countries which have been governed by an authoritarian governance system. On the other hand, the credibility of the electoral system is of equal importance for determining the integrity and legitimacy of a democratic regime, an issue that most of the developing countries more or less face it as a challenge. As a result, credible elections is only ensured by a free and fair conduct of elections and in that case the people and the international community would appreciate and accept the result of the elections.
As the electoral experience of the democratic countries show, acceptability of election results by the people and the international community increases the opportunities of consolidation of democracy in a given context; while weak acceptability of election results by the relevant stakeholders would increase the chances of failure of democracy.
Our electoral results, regardless of their scopes, have nearly always been a matter of serious concern and even social conflicts in more than one and half last decade. What counts here for is that, we shall learn from our past in order not to repeat our mistakes and at the same time build on our successful lessons. As a ground reality, the legitimacy of the Afghan governments most often has been questioned due to electoral fraud and subsequent violence that have led to “deconsolidation” of democracy in Afghanistan. Such challenges are one of the main source of concern of the people, civil society and international community; leading to questioning democracy in our country dramatically. As a result, it is necessary to identify the causes and consequences of electoral malpractices and address them properly.
There are two basic approaches that are used to identify practices undermining electoral practices; inclusive and restrictive. The inclusive approach identifies fraud, malpractice and manipulation. And restrictive approach that only focus on the provisions of the law. This helps a context specific approach to tackle different types of electoral fraud, and it makes obvious sense for the electoral bodies to use the laws as benchmarks in its fraud.
As our electoral experience show, Afghanistan needs to combat incumbency, violence, corruption and impunity, as the causes and drivers of electoral malpractices, in order to improve the electoral practices. It is necessary to ensure that the political leaders, strictly adhere to the application of law in Afghanistan, support constitutionalism and democratic values, pursue the legitimacy of government and consociation of democracy. Doing so, they will ensure a fair election that can benefit all the Afghan citizens and will pave the way to strengthening the democratic practices that can end to various conflicts in the country. It is the duty of the government and the Afghan leaders, to enable the Afghans to vote and practice their civic responsibility for reason of expediency. They shall support elections become completely competitive in Afghanistan and the electorates be free to make a choice between alternatives and that a liberal political system is put in place; this enables Afghanistan to put an end to its conflicts stemming out of religious, ethnic and language differences. It is time to make a bold decision to ensure this by preventing the corrupt politicians who seek to legitimize the illegitimate practice of coercing the Afghan citizens into voting for those they want on the backdrop of rampant electoral rigging in the country.