Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 12th, 2019

How to Prevent Electoral Violence

Elections is a golden opportunity for the political parties and politicians to take power in order to implement their policies and realize their goals. Any political party and politician works hard before elections and specially during the campaign to satisfy the people that their political policies are the best policies and can ensure the needs and expectations of the people if they are elected. However, it is impossible for all political parties and candidates to win. When these political parties or politicians lose, they react in different ways; some of them accept the results and some of them choose violence as a tactic to give them political leverage. In this case, if they do not gain what they look for, they will incite political unrests. Therefore, it is the duty of government and political leaders to reduce disadvantages of losing to avoid the violence that a winner-takes-all situation can trigger.
Regarding Afghanistan, there is a seeming paradox at work; democracy has established itself as the dominant political system; and as an integral part of this process, multi-party elections have emerged as the most legitimate route to political office in Afghanistan. Yet, in recent years’ violence has increased in elections. It is a common issue in developing countries. As a result, Afghan politicians shall look for the best policy options that have been implemented in other developing countries in order to apply the most successful ones here.
I would like to mention 3 long term measures that can address this worrying trend. The first measure is to lower the stakes of elections. As power and resources are still largely concentrated at the center, it raises the stakes of elections. The winner usually takes it all, while the loser is left standing small. Therefore, the concerned government shall ensure the individuals have backed the right horse in the lead-up to elections to protect their interests. The second measure is supporting democratization beyond elections. This enables the losers to express their concerns and satisfy their supports that they have taken the legal measures to protect the rights of their supports. The third measure is addressing unresolved conflicts at local level. This is one of the main causes of conflicts in developing countries. If the concerned government wants to initiate state building and consequently nation building, it shall assess different causes of the local conflicts in order to find viable and applicable solutions for them.
Elections is an opportunity that enables the politicians to take power. As there are winners and losers in any election, the losers in any society, specially developing countries, may choose political violence as a tactic to get leverage. As a result, it is necessary to identify how electoral violence could be well managed. Managing electoral violence enables the concerned government to reach a consensus with the option parties to ensure them that they would not be marginalized from the power and will be given a fair share in the government.