Afghanistan’s Struggle for Democracy: The Need for Electoral Reform

January 27, 2015
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004


Tabish Forugh
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Scott Smith
U.S. Institute of Peace

moderated by

Hamid Arsalan
National Endowment for Democracy

About the Event

The mismanaged elections of 2009 and 2014 brought Afghanistan to the brink of civil war and set back the country’s longstanding struggle for democracy. Election management bodies have since become increasingly discredited, mismanaged, and unable to fulfill their constitutional mandate. At the same time, technical electoral operations remain antiquated and ineffectual, delivering precarious election outcomes. The Single Non-Transferable Voting (SNTV) system, which favors individual candidates, further hinders Afghan democracy by precluding political party participation and minority representation in national and local legislatures. The stability of Afghanistan and its path toward democracy hinge on electoral reform and the improved functionality and integrity of election management bodies. In his presentation, Tabish Forugh highlighted deficiencies in the current electoral system and provided recommendations for domestic and international actors ahead of ahead of the parliamentary and district council elections currently scheduled for 2015. His presentation was followed by comments by Scott Smith.

About the Speakers

Tabish Forugh served most recently as chief of staff at the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), where he worked to promote electoral education, build trust with citizens, and draft electoral laws for approval by parliament. He previously served as spokesperson for the Afghanistan National Olympics Committee, where he developed communication policies and strategies for the promotion of sports diplomacy. An advocate of public participation in free and fair elections, Mr. Forugh has written articles and given interviews on democracy, elections, and current affairs with BBC Persian Service, Channel 1, and Tolonews. During his fellowship, he is preparing a set of policy recommendations for electoral reform ahead of Afghanistan’s upcoming parliamentary and district council elections, including reforms to election management bodies.

Scott Smith is the director of the Afghanistan & Central Asia program at the U.S. Institute of Peace.