A Survey of Public Perception on Elections and Civic Education in Afghanistan
March 31, 2013
Democracy International, in partnership with the National Center for Policy Research (NCPR) at Kabul University, conducted a nationwide survey of Afghan citizens on issues related to elections and civic education. DI and NCPR administered a 63-question survey to 4,000 randomly selected Afghans in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces from October 1 through November 20, 2012.
This survey attempts to understand citizens’ perceptions on ongoing electoral reform efforts and how Afghans receive information about elections. The findings can help inform future civic education efforts in Afghanistan and provide both Afghan policy-makers and the international community critical information related to Afghan governance and international assistance for democratic strengthening.
The survey reveals that Afghans are divided on how democracy functions overall in Afghanistan. While 39 percent of Afghans report some level of satisfaction with how democracy works in the country, 33 percent report dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, 77 percent of Afghans have some or a lot of confidence in President Karzai.
While a plurality of Afghans (46%) are satisfied with the election process, there is a severe lack of election-related information throughout Afghanistan. Common understanding of the institutions that manage Afghan elections is low, with 62 percent of Afghans reporting they are unfamiliar with the function of the Electoral Complaints Commission, and 33 percent of Afghans reporting they are not well informed about the role of the Independent Election Commission. A majority of Afghans (63%) say they are more likely to vote if they are better informed about the election process and candidates. Only 25 percent of Afghans report they had sufficient information in preparation for previous elections. Despite the current information gap, 76 percent of Afghans plan to participate in the upcoming presidential election and 70 percent in the parliamentary elections. The survey reveals that Afghans prefer to receive election-related information through radio and Friday prayers, with 85 percent of Afghans selecting radio advertisements, 80 percent talk radio, and 81 percent Friday prayers as their preferred vehicles of information.
The findings also reveal that 65 percent of Afghans have no confidence in the Taliban, and 73 percent believe armed insurgents, either former or present, should not be permitted to participate as candidates in elections. When asked about their support for reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan, the nationwide results are divided, with 47 percent of Afghans saying they are either likely or very likely to support reconciliation and 38 percent saying they are either unlikely or very unlikely to support it.