Democracy International


December 31, 2014



Democracy International’s report details findings from its international election observation mission to the 2014 Afghanistan presidential and provincial council elections. Given the prospect of a democratic and peaceful transfer of power, Afghans and the international community alike looked upon these elections as a critical opportunity to consolidate the gains made toward democratization and as an important milestone in Afghanistan’s political history.

DI established its election observation mission in February 2014 and observed all phases of the election process, including the first round election held on April 5, the presidential runoff election of June 14, and the comprehensive audit of ballots cast in the runoff. DI organized this international election observation mission and the subsequent report with funding through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

After an election process that lasted more than six months, and included both the country’s first presidential runoff election and a historic and unprecedented comprehensive audit of ballot boxes, Dr. Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated as president on September 29, 2014. Shortly thereafter, President Ghani swore in Dr. Abdullah Abdullah – the runner up in the presidential runoff election – as the Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, a new position created as part of a unity government agreement signed by the two candidates in the aftermath of the runoff election. The provincial council elections concluded on October 26 with the announcement of the final certified results by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan.

Like the elections before it in 2009 and 2010, this one was decided by resorting to ad-hoc procedures rather than relying on those outlined in the constitution, the electoral legislation that was democratically adopted in 2013, and the rules and regulations adopted by the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission. Politicians decided the outcome through a political agreement that to date has prevented the actual results from being announced. This election process further highlighted the need for Afghanistan to finally embrace a genuine process for electoral and broader constitutional reform. Although this election process should not be considered a real step forward for democracy in Afghanistan, it has created genuine hope that progress is possible and that Afghanistan’s democratic moment is not fleeting.

DI offers the following recommendations to be considered before any future elections are conducted:

  1. Release the election results.
  2. Establish an electoral reform process.
  3. Investigate and prosecute election fraud.
  4. Develop an effective voter registration system.
  5. Reform the electoral management bodies.
  6. Conduct public education to strengthen public confidence in elections.
  7. Consider conducting rolling or phased elections.
  8. Increase ballot access thresholds.
  9. Change the electoral system for provincial and legislative elections.
  10. Review the use of presidential runoffs.
  11. Strengthen post-election tallying, re-count, and auditing procedures.
  12. Improve procedures for IEC and IECC hearings.

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