AAN Papers

How to Win an Afghan Election; Perceptions and Practices


In its second report the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) holds the magnifying glass to the Afghan elections, exploring the impact of high-level deals, local-level decision-making processes, and electoral manipulation.

The author, Martine van Bijlert, used her extensive in-country experience, contacts and language skills to provide a detailed analysis of the deal-making and politicking that underlie the current elections, arguing that the analysis of political dynamics is key to understanding the wider process of democratisation and institution building in Afghanistan.

The report describes how Afghans view the elections with mixed feelings. On one hand they believe that the outcome of the vote will be determined by others: the internationals, their leaders or electoral manipulation. On the other hand there is a vibrant process of consultations, negotiations and communal decisions making. The report cautions against simplistic appraisals of probable voting patterns, describing how voters are pulled in different directions, under the influence of instruction, loyalty, patronage and proximity, pressure, positioning, and considerations of substance.

The report argues that the international community should shift its approach from the current emphasis on partnering with whoever seems powerful, regardless of past or present behaviour, to engage with a wider range of political players.

The report discusses the likelihood of electoral malpractice and fraud, and concludes that the methods that have been used in earlier elections all look likely to be repeated. The report calls on the international community to acknowledge electoral realities and in doing so start re-setting the standards for future elections.

To download the report: Click here

To download the executive summary: Click here

Thematic Category: