Why Results Matter

With rumors of a deal finally being reached (see the Khaama article here), there is plenty to worry about in terms of Afghanistan’s troubled transition: what will the powers of the Chief Executive be?  Will the new structure actually be constitutional?  Etc.  But before all those issues are even addressed, the news that the results of the second round of voting may never be released is perhaps most worrying for the future of Afghan democracy (see the NYT article here).  There are understandable reasons why Abdullah, about to concede the presidency despite massive corruption and a flawed voter system for the second time in five years might want the results kept quiet, but doing so would be a mistake.  Not releasing the results sets the precedent that the votes never really matter.  It will emphasize the fact that the transition of power is about negotiations behind closed doors by the political elite.  While, of course, this is largely what has happened.  Allowing the votes to be discarded will make it all the more likely that this will happen again in the future.  It will also rob Ghani of any of the legitimacy that remains from this process, weakening everyone’s position in the future government.

Instead Abdullah should push for the release of the final counts, while demanding a massive overhaul of the IEC and the electoral process in Afghanistan more generally.  Such an approach could actually provide so hope for the future of democracy in Afghanistan instead of setting a dangerous precedent that elections are just a charade to cover the negotiations of the ruling elite.  The voters have cast their votes, it’s the government’s obligation to release the results.

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