Response from a Kabuli voter

We’ve asked some Afghan voters to respond to the upcoming run off.  Here’s the first of several responses:

“Personally, I see the run off from two angles.  First, to me the run off is a good idea since it is the only democratic and legal way for someone to come to come and to transfer power peaceful.  Theoretically, this is the philosophy being applied in this election, however, the way in which the election is held determines how democratic it really is, and this differs from society to society.  In Afghanistan, because of our experience with dictatorships in which the people had no role and also due to the past 13 years, during which many people feel that our votes had minimal impact, I think that the run off can really can some perceptions.  It has the ability to really increase voter confidence in the election process and electoral institutions.  Additionally, a run off is a new experience which will help all stakeholders reflect on the current electoral system and the ways in which it is operating.

On the other hand, however, I am skeptical of the potential for a successful run off in the current situation.  You may know that the Taliban’s spring operation, called ‘Khaibar’, has recently begun and there has been a number of attacks in different provinces.  It is likely that the Taliban will try their best to disrupt the process.  This could make many currently positive opinions more negative.  At the same time, fraud is another problem.  Widespread fraud and accusations of fraud could further increase the tension between the leading candidates and their key supporters.  Additionally, the ability of the Independent Electoral Commission to prepare everything in time is questionable.
To sum up, I support run off as an step forward for democratization in this country if it goes smoothly.  If it goes wrong, however, it could be a real step back.”

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