As we described in October, education plays a huge role in being able to participate in the democratic process. Unfortunately, as we are currently seeing in Afghanistan, more than education goes into a successful election. News sources are unanimously reporting the election a failure due to fraud. Now, nearly three months after the September 18th parliamentary election, results have been announced and many are wondering if the newly elected members of Parliament will be able to get anything done. Alissa Rubin reports one of the biggest problems of this election in her article for the New York Times: “Perhaps most dangerous is that the results did not yield a Parliament whose ethnic proportions match those of the country, and will therefore be perceived as unfair, whether the seats were won by fraud or not.” As we know, Afghanistan is a country made of up many ethnicities, the largest being the Pashtun. In many provinces, including Ghazni, the majority Pashtun population are severely under-represented based on results from this new election.
No one is going to call this election anything even resembling a success, but the democratic process doesn’t start or stop at the voting booth; fair and just elections are representative of fair and just socieites. As we described in our previous article, educated women will play a huge role in Afghan elections, but they unfortunately aren’t yet. Afghanistan’s instability and lack of cooperation between ethnic groups presents a difficult barrier to the social cohesion needed to produce proper elections. In the meantime between now and whenever these fair elections happen, people need to continue to educate themselves. By understanding the election process, being able to read the ballot and know what the candidates support, citizens are empowering themselves to be part of the social transformation that will produce the election results everyone is seeking.
For now, fair elections in Afghanistan will have to be a work in progress, but the closer we come to universal education, the better chances we have of attaining better elections next time around.