Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, June 17th, 2019

Political Disappointment: Causes and Consequences

Political disappointment is one of the features that the citizens relate to government. As the Afghan government is in the process of conducting the elections of Wolsi Jirga and District Councils, we are witnessing the low voters registration and high registration turn out of the candidates. The question which rises is here is why Afghanistan is witnessing the unprecedented voter’s registration? Indeed low voters registration is an evident political disappointment of the Afghan citizens. Afghan citizens expected certain outputs from the MPs as their representatives in the Wolsi Jirga, or they expected them to have certain qualities or behavior as they had pledged during their campaigns, yet they see that they fall short of these standards, resulting feeling of let-down. More or less, this applies to the government as well. Because both of the winning candidates, Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah have fallen short of their standards and have not fulfilled what they had promised to the people.
We may identify disappointment in terms of thwarted expectations; the mismatch between what someone expects from politics and what they perceive they actually get. Recent studies have identified a pervasive disappointment among citizens of Afghanistan, and attributed declining levels of trust and satisfaction with political institutions to a sense of thwarted expectations among members of the public. Political disappointment among the Afghan citizens has two main reasons: First) Most of the candidates have made too many pledges and promises to the people in the past. Many of them, have made such promises because they did not have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities according to the law. Of course, there are some candidates who have made vague promises to the people although they knew that they were not capable to fulfill them. However, these candidates only wanted to get votes and once they achieved their goals they neither have cared about the people, nor have been committed to their constituents. As a result, Afghan citizens feel a sense of disappointment which, over time, it can easily turn into frustration with political institutions or with the political system of the country as a whole.  Political disappointment, as any other social phenomenon, requires to accept it as a social reality and then to address it in a rigorous and scientific manner.
The Afghan government and candidates of Wolsi Jirga and District Councils should build upon the good and bad lessons of the previous elections in the country. The government can contribute to reviving the independence and authority of the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission by taking practical steps; it may prevent any interference in the activities of the IEC and at the same time never interfere in the IEC conducts itself. Candidates of Wolsi Jirga and District Councils should review and revise their campaign approaches. They should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Further, they should not make vague promises to the people. Their promises should be based on the ground realities of Afghanistan. Voters, as the main decision makers during the electoral process should analyze the plans and programs of the candidates. They also should identify the candidates and have a good understanding of their competencies and capabilities. If the people are vigilant, democracy will prevail and if democratic processes mature naturally in a given context, the competent and qualified leaders would emerge and lead the people towards a better future; a future with a vision supported by all Afghan citizens that can ensure the rights of all of them. However, if political disappointment as an output of weak legitimacy of the electoral processes and institutions of Afghanistan continue, we will witness the most low voters turn out in our elections. Indeed, this would be the worst blow against the new democracy in Afghanistan.  It would mean that democratic processes and institutions have largely lost their legitimacy before the Afghans.
Political disappointment is the output of the widespread electoral fraud and short fall of the Wolsi Jirga and the Afghan government in meeting their pledges to the people. Political disappointment can contribute to the frustration of the people from the government and undermine the democratic process in Afghanistan. Although it may seem late, but yet there is time for the government and the candidates to revive the legitimacy of the electoral process and institutions in order to have a fair and free elections in order to put in place functioning institutions in the country to address the basics needs of the people.