“Legitimacy is not a one-time event conferred through an election or the establishment of a charismatic authority but a continuous process of deepening and broadening the rights and obligations of citizenship”
Ok, perhaps, these are wise words are actually 6 years old from Ghani’s Fixing Failed States with Clare Lockhart, but they are some advice that he, Abdullah and the international community should stick to. The current emphasis of the international community on the counting process and the how many votes are fraudulent misses many of the ways in which the current, drawn out process is slowly and inevitably delegitimizing whatever the future government of Afghanistan looks like (for more on this from previous elections see this report on ‘legitimacy’ and elections in Afghanistan).
The constant shifting of rules (most recently here) and the negotiations and re-negotiations means instead of a “deepening” of rights, they have been cut back upon. Perhaps this is why people respond to Abdullah’s claims that he will “protect the votes” of the Afghan people. Every day that the crisis continues, all parties involved are only becoming further delegitimized and it’s difficult to see any group benefiting from the current state of affairs, potentially other than the insurgents.
For the international community, the logic at least makes sense on one level: there is a desire to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement and normalize relationships between governments. However, if the entire process is not perceived by the Afghan public as legitimate, NATO and the Americans may find that they don’t actually have anyone worthwhile to negotiate with.