After the Taliban government was ousted in 2001, Afghanistan made great strides towards democratization, rebuilding its political system around democratic institutions and norms such as universal suffrage and freedom of speech, notes Mohammed Shoaib Haidary, a program officer for The Asia Foundation in Afghanistan. Other significant strides included the adoption of a new constitution and the growth of a free and vibrant media and a committed civil society.
Yet, nearly 17 years later, declining public support for democracy and its key institutions has placed these achievements at risk, he writes:
As documented in The Asia Foundation’s annual Survey of the Afghan People, the proportions of Afghans who are satisfied with democracy, have confidence in the Independent Election Commission (IEC), trust their members of parliament (MPs), and feel safe participating in public political activities are all in significant decline.
In 2006, 77% of Afghans indicated that they were satisfied with democracy. In 2017, this number had fallen 20 points, to just 57% (figure 1), after a decade that included widespread allegations of fraud in the 2014 elections and months of ensuing political gridlock, verging on civil war.
Afghanistan’s prospects are discussed by a number of experts (below), including:
- Omar Samad – the Afghan Ambassador to France and Canada and currently the CEO of Silkroad Consulting.
- Hamid Arsalan – an Afghan analyst and a national security specialist with the National Endowment for Democracy.
- Raza Ahmad Rumi – a visiting faculty at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, Cornell University.
- Rebecca Zimmerman – a policy researcher with the RAND Corporation.