At stake in this election:
- The office of President of Afghanistan
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Hamid KARZAI
- Head of Government: President Hamid KARZAI
- Assembly: Afghanistan has a bicameral National Assembly (Jirga) consisting of the House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga) with 102 seats and the House of People (Wolesi Jirga) with 249 seats.
Description of electoral system:
- The President is elected by absolute majority vote, through a two-round system, to serve a 5-year term. The President is limited to two-five year terms in office.
- The first round of the 2014 presidential election was held on April 5, 2014, alongside elections for members of the country’s 34 Provincial Councils. Turnout was comparatively high, with approximately 57% of eligible voters participating in what is expected to be Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power between heads of state. After the publication of preliminary results and a period of complaints adjudication, the final results of the first round were announced on May 15, 2014. Out of the eight candidates contesting the first round, none received an absolute majority of votes. Therefore, a runoff election is required by the Constitution and Election Law of Afghanistan.
- Dr. Abdullah ABDULLAH—former Minister of Foreign Affairs and 2009 election runner-up—received the most votes in the first round, winning 45.00 percent (2,972,141 votes). He will face former Minister of Finance Dr. Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai, who received 31.56 percent (2,084,547) of the first-round votes, in a runoff election scheduled for June 14, 2014. Final results of the runoff election are scheduled to be announced on July 22, 2014.
- The previous presidential election was held on August 20, 2009. Following the initial count of votes, incumbent President Hamid KARZAI received 3,093,256 votes (54.6%), giving him an absolute majority. However, the election was marked by allegations of widespread fraud, including the sale of voter cards, bribery, voter intimidation, and the stuffing of ballot boxes. Additionally, a wave of violence before and on Election Day resulted in very low voter turnout. Following an investigation into the allegations of electoral fraud, the Electoral Complaints Commission announced on October 18 that over a million votes would be invalidated due to fraud. This development put incumbent Hamid KARZAI below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff against opposition candidate Abdullah ABDULLAH. A second round of voting was scheduled for November 7, 2009; however, on November 1, ABDULLAH forfeited the runoff after KARZAI refused to meet his demand that the leadership of the Independent Electoral Commission resign for their perceived complicity in the fraud and political interference of the first round. The next day, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that the runoff would be cancelled and declared Hamid KARZAI the winner by default. KARZAI is not competing in the 2014 election, as he has served the maximum two terms in office. Twenty-seven candidates registered to compete in the 2014 presidential election; however, on October 22, 2013, the IEC disqualified 16 candidates for various reasons, including a lack of required signatures, documentation, and education level. Three further candidates withdrew before the elections, resulting in a final field of eight candidates in the first round.
Main candidates in the presidential runoff election:
- Dr. Abdullah ABDULLAH[i]
- Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai
Population and number of registered voters:
- Population: 31,108,077 (July 2013 est.)
- Registered Voters: 20,845,988 (March 2014)[ii]
[i] ABDULLAH is the only candidate to be running for a political party, contesting the election for the National Coalition of Afghanistan / Etelaf-e Milli.
[ii] Data accessed on March 27, 2014 from the IEC website at http://iec.org.af/2012-05-31-16-45-49/voter-registration.