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able to compare this with what they expected of a democratic politics, this was by far the greatest barrier to the implementation of “real” democracy in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the common view of the current government as made up of self-serving, power-hungry elites serves only to emphasise the great need for limitations to be enforced over executive control of state functions.

6.4 Section summary

Essentially, then, people hold complex and often contradictory views on what democratic equality in Afghanistan should look like. On the one hand, equality in suffrage or candidacy is not desirable for many in the educated elite due to the perceived inequalities of education and understanding that currently exist in Afghan society. This leads to the suggestion from many respondents that there should be educational criteria placed on candidacy to reduce the likelihood of “unqualified” MPs being selected. However, this perspective makes problematic assumptions about the nature of representation, and especially the ability of “uneducated” communities to make rational decisions about their political needs. On the other hand, equality in resource distribution among






areas is strongly desired by almost all respondents but considered distinctly lacking at present due to the influence of powerholders and a lack of transparency. The perceived discrepancies between

Deconstructing “Democracy” in Afghanistan

groups and the ways some are seen to benefit more than others from the current government is considered by many to be the main barrier preventing democratisation and stability. Equality in resource distribution, then—and in access to decision-making power regardless of wealth, power and patronage—is for many a prerequisite of a truly democratic society. A summary of key points from

this section suggests:

  • That equality




constituents are represented and by whom— is not universally agreed or accepted, and serves to emphasise strongly the discourse of an urban-rural divide

  • That equality in access to decision-making, service provision and resources is seen almost universally as a desirable outcome of the political system, partly due to the lack of such equality experienced by many respondents at present. The lack of transparency and accountability within the system serves to entrench a deep distrust in Afghanistan’s so- called democratic institutions.

  • That at present, “democracy” is seen by many as a front or smokescreen behind which some groups and individuals are able to consolidate their influence and capture resources.

  • That given these flaws, “democracy” in Afghanistan is not currently associated with a fair, transparent system in which all citizens have the same basic rights and opportunities.


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