Friday, October 19, 2018

Afghanistan - An Election of Independents


Tomorrow is Election Day in Afghanistan. 

This is going to be the culmination of a long process of institution building in one of the most trying circumstances. It has a process that has also seen the creation of an independent election commission to oversee a process to bring in 249 representatives from 34 provinces to the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament.

Last week when I landed at Kabul the city presented a familiar, festive sight - colorful stickers, posters, placards and banners filled every possible public space. Posters carried its own logos and numbers, and it took me a while to realise that most of the prospective Members of Parliament were competing as independent candidates. 

According to a WaPo report, there are 2,565 candidates vying for 249 seats, including 417 women candidates. The IEC aims to set up more than 19,000 polling stations in 33 provinces. Out of Afghanistan's estimated total population of 30 million, 8.8 million people have registered to vote. Kabul city alone has more thans 800 candidates competing for 33 seats! 
An overview from AFP

Unlike in India, the system here is that of a single non-transferable vote valid in one constituency. Each voter casts just one vote for one candidate in a multi-candidate race. Posts are filled by the candidates with the most votes, and so in this case, candiates who get the maximum number of votes get to become MPs. 

Voters in cities like Kabul would be extra careful tomorrow - they would have to sift through a ballot 'paper' that looks more like a newspaper centrespread, and choose one candidate out of hundreds.

While most of the posters feature men in sharp suits or in traditional attire, it is interesting to note that there are a significant number of women candidates in the fray. This is not surprising given the fact that the Afghan constitution guarantees 68 seats - or 27% of the total - for women MPs, regardless of their vote share.

A lot of hopes and aspirations are hinged on this elections process, and everybody hopes that it passes off peacefully.



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LINKS & REFERENCES

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan- http://www.iec.org.af/

Report by Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-look-at-afghanistans-parliamentary-elections-on-saturday/2018/10/19/354e4b0c-d367-11e8-a4db-184311d27129_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ff58f1765639

BBC - https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-45836521

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/the-taliban-has-vowed-to-disrupt-the-afghan-elections-candidates-are-out-in-force-anyway/2018/10/16/d57bf1a4-ccf7-11e8-ad0a-0e01efba3cc1_story.html?utm_term=.9e059fd98606
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