Afghan Run-off Elections: Coalition or Competition?

On April 5, Afghanistan made history by voting in nationwide elections despite security concerns, threats from the Taliban and poor weather conditions.

afghan-elections-runoffAccording to the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission, around 7 million Afghans voted in the elections. These elections are expected to provide a new Afghan leader in a peaceful transition.

While final results have yet to be announced, the primary results released by the commission reveals two front-runner candidates: Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah with 44.9 percent and former finance minister Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with 31.5 percent.

Both font runners are preparing for the second round as none of the candidates were able to secure a victory in the first round. According to the electoral complaint commission there are more than 700 grievances of fraud that may alter the election results.

However even accusations of fraud will not deter the election result because according to Afghan law, a run-off must be held within two weeks of the final results being announced.

The election commission has already announced that they are fully capable and prepared for the second round of elections. Yet, there are rumors that the Afghan government is trying to fish in the troubled waters by forming a coalition among the leading candidates to avoid a possible runoff and secure seats for themselves. However both leading candidates have publicly refused to form any coalitions, although it seems it is more likely to happen.

Many Afghans are against any coalition between the candidates, as coalition governments have never brought the best results expected by Afghans. Afghan mujahideen political parties who fought against the Soviet Union formed a coalition after the Soviet withdrawal of Afghanistan and collapse of the Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai’s government.

This coalition set up a fragile interim government which couldn’t function properly as every party vied for influence. Consequently, a civil war erupted which not only defamed the Afghan revolution but also took life of nearly 60,000 innocent Afghan civilians in the capital Kabul. The nation’s economy and infrastructure was left in ruins. Afghanistan’s current leading candidate Dr. Abdullah and his team had a leading part of that tragic coalition.

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To be sure, coalitions are a normal part of the political process in many countries. A good example of positive coalition government is Switzerland. Since 1953, the country is ruled by a four party coalition, and is one of the most successful governments in the world.

However, the possibility of replicating such a coalition scenario in Afghanistan seems more like political suicide.

Thus, the run-off puts a high burden of responsibilities on the election commission, the Afghan government especially the security services and the Afghan people. If Afghans take an active responsibility in the future of their country as they did, then they may have the chance to practice and enjoy real democracy.

Ahmad Hasib Farhan is a graduate of Kabul University and holds a Master degree from Japan in Public Policy and Economics. Farhan is an Afghan analyst and commentator on political and socio-economic affairs in Afghanistan. Farhan can be reached at haseebnadiri@gmail.com. Read other articles by Ahmad.