Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 17th, 2018

Afghanistan’s Democracy Challenge

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday announced October 20 as a fresh date to hold the long due elections to the Wolesi Jirga and districts councils.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has apparently undertaken reforms aiming to enhance both security at the polls and confidence in the election’s results. Most of Afghanistan’s elections have been conflicting and less than effective. The presidential election was termed as corrupt and nontransparent by the rival candidates and some international media sources. As a result, people feared a new round of civil conflicts in the country and it damaged severely the weak economy of Afghanistan too. And it took months to be solved finally by the mediation of the US and other internal allies of Afghanistan.
It is unclear whether IEC’s production could even be termed an election. Given the previous election results, would the 2018 election be termed “as the best election” although it faces mounting challenges?”
If IEC’s reforms prove effective and sufficient, the worst outcome would be a questionable result rather than a pre-ordained victor. Forged National IDs increases the possibility of uncertain results.
Politically, though, other dangers are more critical. Corruption is an issue that will influence the turn out of the public to poll stations, because the voters, fed up with corruption and ineffective government, would seem really disappointed from the government capability to fundamentally curb the wide spread corruption in the country.
Security is another fundamental factor that greatly influences the election results in Afghanistan given the presence of the terrorist groups in many parts of the country, including the North of Afghanistan. And while, as a leader, Ghani seems positioned to deal with the threat of the Afghan Taliban, ISIS, Alqaeda and the HN, it is unclear whether the Afghan military is up to the task or not. Decades of wide spread corruption and political manipulation of the command structure bring heavily into question the capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and it is not clear how much the United States and allies could cooperate to limit the impacts of the terrorists groups threats on the upcoming elections?
Further, this election could improve the overall electoral performance and might present some hope to Afghanistan’s polity. If the manipulation of the ethnic minorities and the marginalization of them are limited, Afghanistan’s democratic path to the future could be cleared and a new horizon of hope for a better future and democratic Afghanistan will be opened to its citizens.
The biggest danger to Afghanistan, though, would come from a victory of hardliner groups followed by a continuation of historical practices, such as blatant corruption and even imposing their restrict values and norms on the people. In that case, the voters’ hopes would fade and the reputation of democracy in Afghanistan would be tarnished, threatening the nation’s commitment to democracy and reform. And even, it changes to the main factor of chaos for the next presidential election in the country; its results would greatly influence the turn out of the people to the polling stations. As the contests for next presidential maybe totally different by joining the Hezb e Islami of Hykmtyar and other newly joined military opposition groups to the peace process, elections would be the next strategic front for these groups to challenge the moderate groups. And the less turn out of the people to the polling stations is the guarantee to their more chances of success in the elections. If this happens, these hardliner groups would defeat democracy by its own weapon in Afghanistan.