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Small constituencies good but too late to create: experts

Small constituencies good but too late to create: experts

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May 21, 2018 - 03:17

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Some political experts believe creation of district electoral constituencies is vital for better representation of people but acknowledge it is hard to get that strategy implemented ahead of Oct 20 parliamentary elections.

In line with Article 10th of the previous Election Law, each province was a single constituency, but later the law was amended and the election commission was tasked with creating small constituencies and ensuring that clause four and six of the article 83 is not violated.

The Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) on Sunday declared a province as one electoral constituency for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections and the entire country as a single constituency for 10 Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon seats of the Kuchiinfo-icon tribe and one for the Hindu minority.

Prof. Gul Ahmad Madadzai, deputy head of the Afghanistaninfo-icon Lawyers Union (ALU), said one of the benefits of small constituencies was that people could vote for their real representatives.

He said creation of small constituencies was possible, but it was made impossible by the government itself with its wrong polices.

“The government wasted time and never strived to resolve this issue and now it is not the time to implement that strategy,” he said.

Article 36 of the Election Law says the delimitation exercise be performed 180 days before the conduct of elections in coordination with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) and Central Statistic Organisation (CSO).

Madadzai said no capacity existed to define boundaries of electoral constituencies. He added the IEC had been unable to conduct elections in provinces based on constituencies and the conduct of polls in small constituencies seemed impossible in the given time.

An election campaigner, who asked for anonymity in the report, said that the reduction of electoral districts would help create a proportional representation.

According to him, the provinces in which different ethnic groups live, it is very helpful to minimize electoral constituencies to create a good representation.

“In the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections, all representatives from Ghazni province in the lower house were only from Hazara tribe while Tajik and Pasthuns had no representative in the house because they could not vote in their areas due to security threats.  It would have been avoided had there been small electoral districts,” he said.

He said not minimizing electoral districts was against the Election Law and would yield negative results in elections.

The source said minimizing electoral districts would also help lawmakers and their constituents to be in close contact and would also help repel negative impacts of the single-non-transferable vote (SNTV) system.

Shehla Farid, a political science lecturer in Kabul University, said any decision about changes in the election processes should have been made earlier as she deemed it illegal to change the electoral system at this stage.

She said the IEC had previously shared its plan on minimizing electoral districts with the Presidential Palace, but the palace was yet decide on that.

Farid said minimizing electoral districts at this stage could not be implemented despite being beneficial for people and prevention of fraud due to security problems.

However, she said womeninfo-icon would be major victim of minimizing electoral districts as people were still not interested in allowing their women to vote.

She said both the Constitution and the Election Law determined women’s seats in the elections.

“Minimizing electoral districts is beneficial in provinces where people of different ethnic groups live”, she said.

She said minimizing electoral districts might be required in a limited number of provinces, not in all.

The IEC decision comes as 20 political parties and groups held a joint meeting, demanding greater share for political parties in the electoral process.

They had said that votes of each electoral district should be transferrable inside lists for political parties and coalitions.

nh/mds/ma

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