A Review of the State of Political Parties in Afghanistan after the 2009 and 2010 Elections

Aug. 9, 2011, 4:27 p.m.

Political Parties in Afghanistan A Review of the State of Political Parties after the 2009 and 2010 Elections was published by NDI in order to take a more in-depth look at the current state of political parties in Afghanistan and in order to provide recommendations on how they can be strengthened.  They conducted 90 interviews with political parties and civil society within Afghanistan.  The paper looks at how to increase long term political development and ways to internally increase the capacity of political parties.  There is a need for political parties to be focused around a unifying ideology versus an individual, to make the process more democratic, and to be more active in between elections.  Currently the major political parties revolve around the seven mujahideen groups created to fight the Soviet occupation.  However, progress has been made as coalitions have been made and other parties do exist.  The paper provides four key findings: party identity, institutional frameworks, party performance, and external factors.

This report describes the state of Afghanistan’s political parties after the 2009 and 2010 elections. While the transition of most major parties from violent, ethnic-based factions was recent and in some cases incomplete, this study indicates that the broader political landscape has changed significantly in the post-2001 era. In the present day, Afghan parties continue to face considerable challenges that hinder their development as credible political players. ...(T)he report provides an overview of the present stage of development among Afghan parties and evaluates party identity, institutional frameworks, party performance, external factors and the relationships between parties and other political actors. The report presents the parties’ own views on how and what kind of assistance should be provided to promote longer-term political development in Afghanistan, and provides recommendations for Afghan and international actors on ways forward. The report builds on data collected in previous NDI assessments, which were conducted in 2006 and 2009. In the present day, political parties in Afghanistan hardly have a formal or systematic political role. This assessment report suggests that the marginalization of parties in Afghanistan is misguided and unjustified on the grounds of their being weak institutions. Parties in other democracies have faced similar internal and external challenges, and yet have become more credible political players over time. Afghan parties have also shown developments in electoral strategy and performance since they were first allowed to register in 2003. In identifying parties’ shortcomings, but in situating these within the Afghan context and suggesting that they are possible to overcome, this assessment attempts to promote the further development of Afghan parties as political actors.

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