Sunday, 25 May 2014

Understanding the Afghan Election

Who takes over in Afghanistan really matters, both to the Afghans, but also the wider region as well and to us in the UK. The election saw no one win 50% in the first round. But how this country goes forward is vital to the stability of the region and the growth of democracy. It is a wonderful thing that Iraq and Afghanistan now have democratic elections not dictatorships. Also every one of our brave troops who fought so long to return this country to democracy will want this beautiful country returning to normal life, normal elections and a decent role for women. It is a great feature of these elections that not only did women take part but they ran for many of the seats.

The election is a bit like the French election in that many candidates vie for the top two spots and then those 2 candidates have a run off to be President.

The development last week was that the Afghan presidential election front-runner, Abdullah Abdullah, won the backing of a key rival, Zalmai Rassoul; Rassoul did not do enough to make the last 2 even though he was the successor favoured by outgoing President Hamid Karzai. As every politician knows being anointed as the favoured son / choice of the outgoing PM [or Speaker] of whatever country is normally a certain way to lose support. Rassoul duly did not make the final 2. He has now pledged his support for Mr Abdullah, the top candidate from the first round.

The second and final round, due in mid-June, pits Mr Abdullah against Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist. The vote comes as international forces prepare to leave at the end of 2014.
Millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats to take part. The scenes and commitment to voting is something truly special. I love in particular this iconic picture of Afghans queuing in the pouring rain to vote.