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

Electoral Violence and Democratization Process in Afghanistan

Elections remain a stabilization factor in any democratic society. It is an important component of any transition process, especially from one civilian administration to the other. Therefore, it is almost impossible to talk about democracy without making implicit reference to elections. Summarily, elections constitute the body, soul and spirit of democracy. But how credible and peaceful an election is; determines its democratic measurement.
Historically, violence has almost always featured prominently in all electoral processes in Afghanistan but it frequency and magnitude of occurrence in the country since the return of the country to democratic rule in 2001 have assumed a catastrophic dimension, particularly, in 2014 and 2018, thus; threatening the democratization process in the country. 
Afghan citizens went to the polls on Saturday 20 October 2018 to elect members of the House of the People. Contrary to the expectations, the election was one of the most unorganized, fraudulent and unfair in the country electoral history. According to experts, despite the heavy investment in the fraud-proof voting technology, reports of politically motivated killings and the ruthless man-handling of civilians during political campaigns and rallies in some provinces indicated that elections are still perceived as a “door die” affair in the country. Conducting free, fair and credible elections in Afghanistan is undoubtedly a big challenge, because the “political players” are not ready to play the game according to rules. This is even worst as there are no severe sanctions for perpetrators of electoral misconducts and violence.
However, some factors are traced to occurrence of electoral violence in Afghanistan. It is poverty, unemployment, ineffectiveness of security forces and culture of impurity by government, illiteracy, zero-sum politics, poor handling of elections by the electoral commission, poor handling of election petitions, lack of internal party democracy, corruption among electoral officials, unresolved ethnic differences, democratic deficit, internal conflicts within the main rival parties, ethnic groups and unemployment among youths   among others.
In Afghanistan, electoral violence is made possible because the political system supported zero-sum politics, as the winning team considers the losing teams stiff opponent who has nothing to offer to the winning party, which eventually forms government. This however has led   to conclude that electoral violence is visible as a result of the structural and attitudinal imbalance in the Afghan society on the part of political leaders. However, the democratization process in the country is threatened as a result of the manipulation and subversion of peoples will which often leads to violence. 
Afghanistan’s electoral management bodies are not strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted by the political system and the electoral misconducts that accompanies it continues to threaten the deepening of democratization process. The negative effects of electoral violence in the country continue to reduce the citizens’ confidence in the democratic process as well as heighten the fears of possible democratic collapse. 
However, the current status of elections in Afghanistan calls for studying and examining the implications of electoral violence on democratization process, with particular reference to 2014 and 2018 general elections in Afghanistan and how the country can manage the electoral process without much threat to the democratic stability. With considerable negative effects of electoral violence on the political system, therefore proffer recommendations on how electoral related violence can be reduced as well as controlled shall be taken seriously. Such studies however will constitute additional literature to existing body of knowledge in the area of democratization. They will also form relevant data bank for policy makers, election management body, academics and the general reading public.
Studying the electoral violence and its implications on democratization process in Afghanistan, with focusing on previous general elections is necessary to overcome the overriding electoral challenges in the country. Elections in Afghanistan have nearly always created an atmosphere of uncertainty and tensions as a result of undemocratic roles played by politicians. Afghanistan’s most valuable asset remains not its mineral resources but its resourceful and diverse people. Peaceful, credible and transparent elections could be the first step to the responsible and transparent government that Afghans deserve.