Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Youth Participation in Electoral Process: A Determinant Variable

Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 constitute about 60 percent of Afghanistan’s population. But, the influence of Afghan youth on national politics remains very limited. However, Afghan youth mainly feel alienated from political processes due to traditional politics and traditional society perspectives on the roles of the youth in political decision making processes. As a result, representative democracy, whereby voters determine the outcome of power struggles at the ballot box, have failed so far to give  due power to the youth in political decision making in Afghanistan. It is self evident, that youth are vital in bringing about social and political changes in. In fact, they can act as the main agents of the change in the society if they are given due political attention and opportunities to show up their capabilities. As a matter of fact, young people have always been at the forefront of democratic struggles in Afghanistan. Afghan Youth were at the forefront of struggles during the Soviet Union Invasion, the Taliban era and they are at the forefront of struggles in the current situation of Afghanistan too. Afghan youth have given many sacrifices and the Afghan authoritarian regimes have fallen due to their engagement in the conflicts and the political trajectories of the country have been shifted by their continues efforts. However, they have been less involved in the aftermath of such critical engagements in the country unfortunately. Yet, perceptions of exclusion exists both at the political and social perceptions levels in the country and have made the young people to seek alternative ways to express their dissatisfaction of the current situation and socio-political approaches to the youth. There is no doubt that, the inclusion of Afghan youth in political processes is crucial to peace-building, longer-term stability, and economic development in Afghanistan. In addition, the engagement of youth in formulating tomorrow’s politics is one of the most crucial issues that should be considered by the Afghan government, because inclusive participation is a fundamental political and democratic right of every Afghan citizen. Thus, what the Afghan government should keep in mind is that, actively promoting the inclusion of youth in political processes is not only about norms, values and rights of the youth, but also about practical politics. Youth have both the knowledge and desire of change in the country. Their cohorts find themselves in a different situation and their political and socioeconomic priorities differ from other social groups. Our youth have grown up in an age of transformation related to the increased use of information and communications technologies. As a result, young people could bring new visions and ideas to the political sphere of Afghanistan. Such new visions and ideas circle around the national interests and can unify the fragmented Afghan society, an issue that our old leaders have failed to succeed to bringing such a transformation in the social perception of the Afghans. Indeed, our youth are the key democratic stakeholders, a sentiment expressed repeatedly by the Afghan politicians and government but lacking practical initiatives to translate it to practice in the political, social and economic spheres. In fact, the Afghanistan’s greatest resource is its youthful population and our country would surmount the challenges that lies ahead it through their active and full participation.
As a matter of fact, the youth constituency in Afghanistan is too large to remain on the margins of the democratic process. As a result, the Afghan government should engage them in multifaceted programs and should consider different in initiatives based on the successful measures about how to bring youth on board. In fact, the Afghan government needs to start taking a more proactive approach to engaging with youth as voters, electoral candidates and electoral managers. Doing so, the Afghan government should trust and believe in the capability and potentials of the youth. At the same time, the Afghan government should engage more effectively and efficiently with key partners on youth-related issues. However, the main obstacle to the youth political participation is traditional political and traditional social perspectives about the role of the youth in political sphere of the country. To overcome this, we need to change our political and social approaches to the role of the youth in political, social and economic aspects.