• How Afghans View 2014 Polls

How Afghans View 2014 Polls

28 February 2013

A new report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) examines how Afghans perceive next year’s crucial Presidential elections.

The report, “Justifying the Means: Afghan Perceptions of Electoral Processes”  is based on interviews with Afghans in three different regions of the country.

It says that international supporters of these polls feel that “it is imperative for Afghan voters to perceive the elections as free and fair, regardless of how they are judged externally”. 

Afghans, on the other hand, see it slightly differently and “tend to assess the overall legitimacy of the process based on their judgment of the outcome”. 

Afghan elections in 2009 and 2010 were dogged with allegations of fraud and many of the Afghans interviewed had complaints about the way polls had been conducted in the past.  They also expressed concerns about whether next year’s elections were likely to be free and fair.

However, USIP says the 2014 polls are interlinked with broader fears surrounding Afghanistan’s military and political transition.  This meant that most interviewees “were more concerned with the potential outcome of elections in 2014 than the nature of the actual election process” .

The report says interviewees were concerned that as elections approached, “there would be less incentive for national and regional level powerholders to remain allied with the government and stay within the current system” .

” Elections were considered likely to promote political chaos and, potentially, civil war as international troops leave and current coalitions break apart”, it adds.

Nevertheless, respondents remained broadly in favour of holding elections, seeing them as a potentially useful mechanism for selecting leaders .

USIP outlines steps which should be taken by the Afghan government - and the international community - to ensure that the 2014 elections facilitate, as opposed to hinder, transition. 

These include working to ensure that they are seen as free and fair, transparent and include the participation of as many groups and leaders as possible.

“Long-term reforms to the system are needed”, the report concludes, “ but these should be part of an international assistance program that reaches well beyond the drawdown of troops”.