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Afghanistan lacks the sinews to move forward as a democracy

By Farhad Arian - posted Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Following the collapse of the Taliban in late 2001, Afghanistan experienced a rapid democratization process in terms of enacting new laws and establishing democratic institutions. However, regardless of the recognition of democracy as an issue of central importance by the international community, in the post-2001 period, the Afghan government paid no attention to providing the ground for establishing democratic political parties.

In the post-Taliban era, the government of Afghanistan has not only failed to provide the legal, financial and technical grounds for establishing and developing democratic political parties, but also ignored the importance of founding a democratic two-party or multi-party system. As a result of the ignorance of political parties in the last nine y ears, Afghanistan still is a partly democracy with no democratic political parties.

Inability of the Afghan government in enforcing laws


The lack of ability of the government of Afghanistan to enforce national laws has undermined the establishment as well as the development of democratic political parties in the post-Taliban era.

While both the Afghan Constitution of 2004 and the Political Parties Law of 2003 provide the legal ground for establishing democratic political parties, the failure of the Afghan government in enforcing laws has paved the way for the establishment of those political parties that are not democratic and nationwide.

Therefore, despite the requirements of the Afghan Constitution and the Political Parties Law that forbid the establishment of racial, ethnic, religious, and language-based parties, most political parties in today's Afghanistan derive support alongside the lines of ethnicit y, race, language, and religion.

In addition to the lack of capacity in the Afghan government in enforcing laws, Afghan Constitution does not particularly oblige the government to establish a democratic two-party or multi-party system. Likewise, the Afghan Election Law provides for the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) system that undermines the role of political parties in the national elections.

As such, the silence of Afghan legal frameworks towards establishing a democratic two-party or multi-party system has provided religious leaders, Communist movements, ethnic group elites, individual intellectuals, warlords, and tribal elders with an exceptional opportunity to establish their own political parties rather than founding democratic nationwide parties.

As a result, in the last nine years, both the Afghan government and legal frameworks in their own have been two barriers, challenging the establishment of a democratic two-party or multi-party system.


Lack of organizational strength and transparent financial sources

In the post-Taliban era, Afghan political parties have been in the lack of democratic organizational strength for establishing a two-party or multi-party system. This is because Afghan political parties are mostly remained fragile, fragmented and non-democratic in the post-Bonn period. Although Afghan political parties claim that they represent the democratization process of the country, no political party democratically represents the people of Afghanistan because they are established along the lines of ethnicity, language, race and religion rather than being nationwide representatives of the Afghan people.

Therefore, while Afghan political parties neither have a national political agenda nor represent the Afghan people, in the post-Taliban era, political parties are rema ined non-democratic and fragile in terms of their organizational structures.

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About the Author

Farhad Arian is a former Deputy Director of the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was a Legal Consultant to the General-Directorate of the National Radio/Television of Afghanistan. Farhad Arian is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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