Commit to the Electoral Principles
The campaign period ended officially and the voters have two days to ponder over their preferred candidate for the country’s presidency. Before the Election Day, many international and national including election monitoring agencies and the United Nations have asked the two candidates to accept the outcome of the Saturday’s election. And the candidates have pledged to commit to democratic principles and play fairly during the election processes. However, there are concerns about behaviors of the election candidates after the election outcome is announced. This year’s election is highly contested and both of the candidates are highly confident of winning the elections. This poses some genuine and possible challenges for the democratic practice of the people of Afghanistan.
The question for many is that will the candidates accept the outcome of the election, whatever it is. So far, Afghans have been alien to the culture of welcoming the outcome of elections by a loser candidate. And perhaps, this might be the first time that Afghans are going to test it. In retrospect, we see a bloody history in which every ruler came to power through bloodletting and violence. Another question is that in case there is a fraudulent election, will the candidates be willing to avoid creating a potential political crisis in the country.
There were some frauds and irregularities in the first round of the elections, and most possibly, there will also be some in the second round of the elections too. Given the 2009 election, that was extensively rigged and almost created a dangerous political crisis, it is unrealistic to believe that there will be a fully fraud-free election and the outcome will be fully transparent and acceptable. Many believe that there might be rigging to some extent and the election will be marred in one or other ways. Though there are a lot to be optimistic about the legitimacy of the election, but the fact is that it could be such a derailment in the election process. If such a scenario occurs, there is high probability for the candidates to refuse the outcome of the elections.
Even if there is no rigging in the election, the possibility will exist that the candidates may refuse to recognize the outcome of the elections. In case this happens, there will be political wrangling and post-election confusion would potentially endanger the political stability of the country. There must be extensive pressures from the public and the international community as well as the government and the political spectrum to convince the candidates to accept the election results.
The surest way to safeguard the election is to have a sound and transparent process that convinces every candidate and other stakeholders of the process. For this, there is need for political will from the government and the electoral bodies to deliver the right outcome. The electoral bodies need to produce a sound and fair election by leading a fair and transparent election. And both the candidates must commit themselves to the democratic principles and respect the will of the people.