Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Can Afghanistan Manage to Hold an Election in 2018?

2 min

The Diplomat, 13 December 2017

In this article, AAN research is extensively quoted:

In September 2016, the Afghan parliament passed a new electoral law, which paved the way for the setting of an election date but also passed the “most controversial and complicated changes” onto the IEC, as Ali Yawar Adili and Martine van Bijlert wrote for the Afghanistan Analyst[s] Network earlier this year.

In a pair of articles in November, Adili delved into the political and technical issues surrounding the planned July 2018 election.

The IEC and its sister body, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), “are finding themselves under increasing fire from a growing number of political groups and election observer bodies.” Alternating accusations of corruption and government meddling led to calls for the commissioners to all be fired. Najibullah Ahmadzai, the IEC chairman, was fired in mid-November by Ghani.

A month later, the body remains headless and in turmoil, threatening to elect its own head if the government continues to delay. The IEC and ECC are the center of attention when it comes to electoral reform and the management of not only next year’s planned parliamentary and district council elections but the presidential election on the schedule for 2019.

Then there are the technical issues: budget for the parliamentary and district elections was recently estimated at $210 million dollars, most of which will need to come from international donors; security remains tenuous throughout the country, with the Afghan government estimated to “control or influence” only 56.7 percent of the country’s districts; aims to use high-tech elections equipment to ensure transparency — such as biometric voter registration — seem completely infeasible.

Electoral reform is a smokescreen for the real issue at the center of all the troubles Afghanistan presently experiences, from political wrangling among the central government in Kabul to the ongoing Taliban insurgency: who controls the levers of power.

As this part of Adili’s piece underscores, the electoral commissions are at the heart of this battle:

It is worth noting that all the various political forces, whether in government or out of it, consider it crucial who controls the two commissions, as they will play a crucial role in determining who will become Afghanistan’s next MPs and next president. They will play that role whether or not the elections are fair or rigged. This obsession with the commissions was manifested very vividly in the post-2014 electoral reform process, which, as AAN previously wrote, largely boiled down not to reform as such, but to “a tug of war over who controls the electoral bodies – and through them the election’s outcome.”