DEMOCRACY IN AFGHANISTAN
Parties Recommend Changes of the Electoral Law
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The current electoral system based on the Single Non-Transferable Vote should not be used again during the next parliamentary election 2010 in Afghanistan. That was the consensus reached between participants of a workshop organised by the Kabul office of Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) on 20 and 21 September 2006 who represented different political parties and members of the Wolesi Jirga both independent and affiliated with parties.
Consolidation of political parties versus SNTV
The current electoral system based on the Single Non-Transferable Vote should not be used again during the next parliamentary election 2010 in Afghanistan. That was the consensus reached between participants of a workshop organised by the Kabul office of Konrad Adenauer Foundation in September 2006 who represented different political parties and members of the Wolesi Jirga both independent and affiliated with parties. They expressed their view that the SNTV system as well as violence and irregularities during the elections had resulted in a ‘not ideal’ parliament which nevertheless should be given the benefit of the doubt – and a chance to develop into an effective national institution.
Political parties and the bloodshed of the past
Taking into consideration that political parties are held responsible by many Afghans for the bloodshed in the past two and a half decades in the country, the participants of the workshop also agreed that a switch to a system entirely based on Proportional Representation would also not yield a fair results. They declared that they would campaign for changes of the Electoral Law towards a mixed system that will provide space for both candidates affiliated to political parties as well as for independent candidates. For both groups, a percentage of parliamentary seats should be allocated. The participants, however, insisted that the unhindered existence of political parties was a prerequisite for the development of a sound democratic and parliamentary system in Afghanistan as envisaged in the preamble of the Bonn Agreements on Afghanistan 2001 and by the Constitution and that ‘a democracy without parties is no democracy’. They criticised attempts to depoliticize the Afghan society under the pretext of a general anti-party criticism.
"Islamic" and "democratic"
Ranging from ‘Islamic’ to ‘new democratic’ party representatives, the participants reflected different views of the reasons for and the assessment of the past decades of conflict in Afghanistan. They agreed, however, that violence must be a phenomenon of the past and political competition should be based on a struggle of ideas only. The representatives of ‘new democratic’ parties were the strongest criticisers of the still not fully implemented country-wide disarmament that also would, amongst other points, provide for a level playing field for all political forces. On the other side, representatives of groups previously or currently linked to armed political factions appealed to the others to give them a chance to develop from primarily military into political organisations. They insisted that their power was not only based an the power of guns but that they also represented ideas. There was agreement between the participants that Afghanistan lacked really ‘national’ parties, that most of the existing parties were organised along ethnic lines and that there often was a lack of intra-party democracy while a number of parties pointed to their long tradition of electing their leaders and leading bodies. They expressed concern about the lack of participation of women in national politics and in political parties in particular. Cultural biases were identified as a major obstacle to this and awareness raising amongst women – and men – identified as ways out of this situation.
The definition of "National"
The participants also insisted that the existence of a pluralistic system of ‘national’ parties would in no way undermine the concept of national unity but, vice versa, strengthen this concept by peacefully bringing together the different views represented in the population. The participants thanked the KAS for hosting the workshop and called for a continuation of similar meetings also by other institutions in order to facilitate further inter-party and party-parliament contacts as well as a systematic discussion of issues related to political parties, elections and the parliament.
The participants of the workshop were: Mr. Abdul Hadi Arghandehwal (Islamic Party of Afghanistan) Mr. Akhtar Muhammad (Democratic Party of Afghanistan) Mr. Aziz Ahmad Asef (Afghan Social Democratic Party/ Afghan Millat) Prof. Din Muhammad Gran (National Islamic Front of Afghanistan) Mr. Faizullah Zaki (National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, member of the Wolesi Jirga) Dr. Hussain Yasa (People’s Islamic Unity Party) Prof. Dr. Kabir Ranjbar (Democratic Party of Afghanistan, member of the Wolesi Jirga) Dr. Massud Matin (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan) Mr. Muhammad Hashem Watanwal (member of the Wolesi Jirga) Dr. Saber Naseri (National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan’s Tribes) Mr. Sebghatullah Sanjar (Republican Party of Afghanistan) Dr. Seyyed Ghulam Farouq Meranai (Afghan Social Democratic Party/ Afghan Millat, member of the Wolesi Jirga) Mr. Seyyed Hamed Nuri (New Afghanistan Party) Ms. Soraya Parlika (National United Party of Afghanistan)
Dr. Babak Khalatbari (country director, Konrad Adenauer Foundation) Ms. Joanna Nathan (International Crisis Group), independent expert Mr. Muhammad Qasim Akhgar, independent expert Mr. Thomas Ruttig, independent expert
There were observers from the German and French Embassies and from the Office of the EU Special Representative in Kabul.
Afghanistan, October 2, 2006