Growing Impatience

The Wall Street Journal’s article today highlights what they point to as growing support for Karzai remaining on in some role in perhaps an interim government position (see full article here).  On one level this is a sad turn, since, as we argued in earlier pieces, much of the initial turn out of voters was in support of moving past the Karzai era (see the full report).  What this demonstrates is how far the process has descended and how much distrust there is now between the candidates, but also between the voters and the two main candidates.  We heard a lot of voters in the lead up to the elections basically voice their support for “anyone who is not Karzai”.  Evidence of this was found in Zelmai Rassoul, supposedly Karzai’s favored candidates, abysmal showing (11%), which eliminated him from contention (though there are questions of course about Karzai’s lukewarm support of Rassoul and whether he is still simply playing a longer game).  If Karzai is regaining popular support, Continue reading

Never Ending Elections

For those wondering what is actually happening during the counting process, the Economist has an interesting post on the current counting process.  Certainly does not sound like there is much of an end in sight:

“THREE airless aluminium warehouses, shaped like giant armadillos, sit hunched on the outskirts of Kabul. Inside hundreds of volunteers and international election observers have been bustling around in stifling heat, arguing over the shape of tick-marks on individual ballots. During Ramadan the lack of food and drink made the stale atmosphere inside the godowns all the more draining.

The Ramadan fast has since broken, but the counting goes on. Until it has finished, the presidential election that was supposed to replace Hamid Karzai hangs in suspension.

After a surprising reversal of fortunes suddenly favoured Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the presidential elections, his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul. Alleging fraud, several of his powerful supporters threatened to establish a breakaway government.

It took an emergency agreement…Continue reading here.

Elections in 2015?

The focus of most of the pieces here has been the elections of 2014 and with the current state of uncertainty, there is certainly still much to be decided. We’ve talked some about the long term repercussions of the current vote (see for example this post on opposition politics or this one on potential fallout out), but it might be worthwhile, however, while the recounting continues to start thinking specifically about the scheduled parliamentary vote in 2015. In past Afghan elections, the international community has often began preparing for the vote at the absolute last minute, so the sooner conversations about the next round of voting start taking place, the better prepared everyone will be. With that in mind, here are some key concerns and questions that
we have begun thinking about:

  • Will the vote take place and when: With the current political disarray there could certainly be a case made for postponing the vote. None of the other parliamentary votes have actually taken place when mandated by the constitution (though all still took place within a calendar year), so it stands to reason that they could be pushed back.  With the chaos and perceived manipulation about the elections this year, however, another round of voting that is significantly delayed could cause long term drop in confidence in the electoral process.  An on time election could make 2014 seem more of a blip in the democratic transition.  There will be costs and benefits with each option.
  • Will constitutional changes alter the  Continue reading

Good News, Bad News: Kerry and Uncomfortable Parallels with 2009

The deal that John Kerry appears to have brokered between Abdullah and Ghani – basically a full recount of all votes cast in the June election – is good news for the short term stability of the country.  A process that seemed on the verge of collapse has been supported by external pressure and demonstrators with the potential to become violent are likely to return home for the coming days.  Taking a longer term view, however, especially looking back at the 2009 vote, there are some real reasons for worry.

In 2009, then-Senator Kerry flew to Kabul to pressure President Karzai to submit to a second round of voting – a process that was adverted when Abdullah withdrew.  While, again, good in the short term, numerous Afghan voters have pointed out to us in interviews about how this was a crucial turning point away from democracy in Afghanistan.  At this moment, it became increasingly clear that Continue reading

Stations Opening, Officials Fired: Preparations for Round II Begin



Already pieces are beginning to move on both the technical and political side of the electoral process as Afghanistan begins to prepare for the upcoming run off.  If all the negotiations and pledges of support were not enough to keep voters busy as they try to figure out whether Ashraf Ghani can muster the 14% of votes necessary to make up the distance between himself and frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah, the Independent Election Commission announced several changes recently that could re-figure some calculations.  First they announced the opening of an additional 4,000 polling stations in part to make up for the shortage of ballots in the first round (for more see this TOLO news story).  This leaves candidates trying to calculate whether these opening will increase their numbers depending upon where they are located and the distribution of their supporters.Election Day 142

Simultaneously, the IEC has announced Continue reading

Will Violence Upset the Afghan Elections?

If elections were not considered by most Afghans to be an acceptable form of transition from one government to another, they would not be worth attacking.

This does not make the recent surge of pre-election attacks in Afghanistan any less worrying; they are still a legitimate attempt to derail the elections scheduled for April 5.

For more, see our latest post on Foreign Policy’s South Asia Channel:

Will Violence Upset the Afghan Elections? 
Violence elections








Photo: As used on FP (Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Monitoring the Elections?

NYT this morning has a good piece on how recent attacks mean fewer monitors and how that will shape the credibility of the elections.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Usually, an Afghan election — a $100 million, Western-funded exercise — draws foreigners to Kabul like flies to honey, with incoming flights full of consultants, international monitors, diplomats and journalists.

Not this time. Now, it is the flights out that are full, and the incoming planes are half empty.  Read More

Attacks on Monitors and Election Officials

The upcoming vote is destined to be even more challenging if there are few international monitors.  The recent attacks on the Serena Hotel (a place where many monitors were planning on staying) and on the Kabul electoral headquarters raises the stakes and makes transparency that much more difficult.

For the Washington Post’s take see:

Taliban Attack on Luxury Hotel

Taliban Kill 4 in Kabul Election Attack