Ethnic Politics and Youth Political Participation in Afghanistan

Ethnic Politics and Youth Political Participation in Afghanistan

28. Sep. 2015 by M. Qasim Wafayezada
Heinrich Böll Stiftung - Afghanistan
Place of Publication: Kabul
Date of Publication: September, 2015
Number of Pages: 35
License: CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
Language of Publication: English & Dari

Introduction

For over two decades, the Afghan people suffered from ethnic violence, instability, insecurity, and the horrors of extremism and terrorism.  The conclusion of the Bonn Agreement provided Afghanistan with a rare historical moment for a political and social change and democratic transition.  Peacebuilding, democratization and state-building processes were put in motion under the auspices of the United Nations. With the earnest international focus on Afghanistan, an unprecedented flow of aid into the country enabled the INGOs and of course the Afghanistan government to finance reconstruction projects in order to raise the country from the ashes of war. In post 2001, Afghanistan has taken strides in realization of the peace agenda set in the Bonn Agreement. Yet, Afghanistan faces more subtle challenges in managing the social divisions, ethnic and linguistic problems that affects the young generation in the country. Today, at the end of democratic transition process, Afghanistan has entered the democratic consolidation phase in which the Afghan government and the civil society are expected to focus on democratic political development and effective nation-building based on common values stipulated in the Constitution. To achieve this goal, the government needs a policy shift toward its large youth population that can play a vital role in political development of the country and a successful social transformation of the current ethnicity-centered politics to a more national one.

Afghan educated youth, mainly have a dense presence within the civil society organizations, which acts more or less as a reactionary force and voices the social protests but fail short to translate it into political actions. Political parties, except a few youth-centric ones, are dominated by the traditional elites within a paternal political context. Therefore, in spite of wide participation, Afghan youth are seen as “political foot soldiers” than an active social and political core that could act as the linchpin of social dynamism.

In addition, with an 11.8 million of juveniles and youth (10-24), Afghanistan faces an unprecedented pressure from ‘youth bulge.’ Considering the slow pace of institution building and limited available employment opportunities and political capacities, youth bulge on the one hand provides the country with a potent challenge, and on the other hand, drives the youth toward bad and worse choices of ‘exit’ or ‘violence’. Hence informing policy circles of the real challenges and problems that lies beneath the society’s skin is critical to democratic consolidation of ‘peace by peaceful means’ especially within the Transformation Decade (2015-2024).

This article explores the correlation between an active ethnic politics and youth political participation in Afghanistan. Constraints to youth political participation posed by a persistent ethnic politics, ethnic political parties and the electoral design and the prospects of youth participation in the upcoming elections are the main arguments of this research. Based on materials and information from the field, as well as an analysis of the past experiences and existing concrete realities and facts, this article endeavors to map the future of youth political participation, especially in the upcoming parliamentary elections, currently postponed for 2016.

 

Table of contents:

1.1. Introduction ..........................................................................................................7
1.2. Methodology.........................................................................................................8
1.3. Political participation: Definition and Forms ........................................................8
1.4. Youth political participation and ethnic politics ................................................10
1.5. Ethnic politics and youth political participation in Afghanistan..........................12
1.5.1. Ethnic political parties in post 2001 ............................................................14
1.5.2. Changing party politics and the rise of maverick leaders ............................16
1.5.3. Electoral design............................................................................................17
1.5.3.1. PR versus SNTV electoral systems.........................................................18
1.5.3.2. Voting pattern and the rejuvenation of the old-guard .........................21
1.6. Youth participation in the Past elections (2004-2014)........................................23
1.7. Electoral frauds and its impact on youths’ trust .................................................26
1.8. Conclusion and Recommendations ....................................................................28
Bibliography................................................................................................................30
Interviews...................................................................................................................33
Annex I: Questionnaire 1............................................................................................34
Annex II: Questionnaire 2...........................................................................................35

0 Comments

Add new comment

Add new comment