Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Democracy in Jeopardy

Democracy and democratic traditions seem to be declining in the world, and this does not point at a better future for the people of the world as a whole; particularly, regarding their freedoms and their most important rights. A recent report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) revealed that a third of the world’s population resides in countries where democracy is in retreat, including India, Turkey, Brazil, Poland, Russia and the United States. The report further highlighted: “While most people in the world still live in democracies in 2017, democracy has declined in 24 countries home to 2.6 billion people.” At the same time, it also highlighted that the drift toward autocratic rule – underwhich checks against executive power are weakened– occurredmainly in democratic regions, notably Western and Eastern Europe and the United States.
This report raises serious questions about democracy and democratic processes. Even the importance of elections, and the protection of individual freedom and rights can be undermined. In order to save democracy, it is very important that there must be efforts to promote accountability and check the shift towards the authoritarian 
In a democratic country the ultimate authority shouldlie within the people. And ultimately, the government should be answerable to the people. Moreover, to guarantee such accountability the modern democratic theory emphasizes toestablish and strengthen political systems in such a way that people have most of the power, though indirectly. The underdeveloped and developing democracies must pursue the same theory to help promote better democratic systems. Afghanistan, being in a very primary stage of democracy should make efforts on the same principle. However, the democratic trends in Afghanistan are also under threat of authoritarian inclinations.
One of the basic ways the people can participate in the affairs of the state is through elections. Well-established and developed election systems can provide opportunities to all the members of the society to cast their votes and have their say in the making of the government. However, in Afghanistan this basic institution of democracy has not been able to function appropriately. The last presidential elections were vehemently dominated by fraud and corruption.
The proper and well-developed election process can play an important role in creating accountable government. A political party or a politician in order to be elected by the votes of the people tries to perform properly so that it gets chance of remaining in authority for a longer period of time. If the political parties and the contestants in the elections come to know that they can win the election even without the consent of the people, through illegal ways, they will never remain accountable to the people and would not care much about the public opinion. Afghan political scenario, at the moment, is facing almost a similar sort of situation.
Another issue of unaccountability arises when a system is made personality-oriented, wherein the individuals are prioritized on the basis of their actual or assumed personality traits. This property is mostly found in dictatorial and authoritarian forms of government. Such ideologies are basically the remnants of the monarchies that could be found long ago in human history.
The institutions, which can play a dominant role in establishing democratic culture and accountable system, are underestimated and even ignored in such systems. Our country Afghanistan happens to be a similar country. The democratic institutions are ignored to a great extent while the political system circulates around the personalities. Even the election system is designed is such a way that promotes personality-worship. The absence of political parties and their influence within election system have made many overlook the importance of political parties which happen to be very important institution for the growth and institutionalization of democracy.
It is also unfortunate to note that Afghan government structure has been formed in such a way that it is difficult to hold the presidential palace accountable for its policies and actions. As a matter of fact, accountability can be achieved when there is transparency and the rule of law. However, both these characteristics seem to be non-existent in Afghan society. Transparency and rule of law can be maintained when there is proper separation of power and the different organs of state can function on their own – independently. In fact, judiciary and law enforcement agencies must be capable to hold the law as the top priority matter. In Afghan political system the separation of powers is not clear and the judiciary is composed of what the government decides.
A thorough analysis of Afghanistan’s political scenario will depict that currently the political processes are also being kept aloof of accountability along with the institutions. The current efforts for the reconciliation and reintegration processes are very much non-participatory and non-transparent. As the major stakeholders are being kept away from the processes, a sort of ambiguity and distrust is being generated within different circles and the people of Afghanistan. Moreover, there is a disadvantage of such an approach as well – it is likely to result in improper and incomplete outcomes of the processes, which will further generate controversies. 
Afghan authorities have in fact kept on striving to limit the power and authority to themselves and, on certain occasions, have used the same irresponsibly. The need of time is to make the political institutions and processes accountable to the people through proper democratization of the political structure.