One-third seats to political parties in parliament opposed
KABUL (Pajhwok): A majority of participants of four meetings analysing the country’s electoral regime arranged by Pajhwok Afghan News have endorsed the Electoral Reform Commission (ERC)’s suggestions as “implementable”, but they opposed change to the voting system.
They opposed giving 1/3 or one-third of Wolesi Jirga or lower house seats to political parties, believing that political groups that could represent people from all over the country did not exist in Afghanistan.
The ERC had provided its first set of suggestions to the government in September following consultations with people from different walks of life in various provinces during a period of one month.
President Ghani has approved seven of the 10 suggestions and asked the ERC to deeply review the remaining three proposals that call for changes to the electoral system, the creation of a transparency committee and making small electoral constituencies.
Switching to parallel ‘mixed’ system from the current Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) is one of the three suggestions.
Pajhwok Afghan News organised four meetings participated by 57 civil society activists, election experts, tribal elders, political experts, lawmakers, ERC members and media representatives to critically review and assess the ERC suggestions.
Most of the participants stressed reforms in the electoral system, but said the proposed reforms should restore people’s trust in elections and should not be in conflict with the Constitution. They said most of the ERC suggestions were implementable.
The ERC’s major suggestions include registration of voters, making electoral bodies accountable, the presence of two foreigners on the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC), the reservation of one seat in Wolesi Jirga for Hindu minority and identification of more constituencies and shrinking some.
Other proposals include the distribution of computerised identity cards, a 25 percent representation of women in provincial and district councils and invalidation of the current voter cards.
But the participants said switching to a new voting system and some other important issues needed more time and work in order to be in accordance with the ground realities.
At the meetings, political experts said the current political parties could not represent people of all parts of the country, thus should not be allotted one-third of Wolesi Jirga seats.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.