Afghan parliamentary election, 2005

Afghan parliamentary election, 2005

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Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

held parliamentary and provincial council elections on 18 September 2005. The first results were declared on 9 October, with final results being delayed by accusations of fraud, and were finally announced on 12 November.

Results


Former warlords and their followers gained the majority of seats in both the lower house
House of the People (Afghanistan)
The House of the People or Wolesi Jirga , abbreviated WJ, is the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the House of Elders....

 and the provincial council (which elects the members of the upper house
House of Elders
Mesherano Jirga or the House of Elders, is the upper house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the Wolesi Jirga .It has 102 members...

). Women won 28% of the seats in the lower house, six more than the 25% guaranteed in the 2004 constitution
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

.

Turnout


Turnout was estimated at about 50%, substantially lower than at the presidential election in October 2004. This is blamed on the lack of identifiable party lists as a result of Afghanistan's new electoral law, which left voters in many cases unclear on who they were voting for.

Turnout was highest in the Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, Uzbek and the Tajik populated provinces in the north - generally over 60% - and 50% in some of the Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 southeastern areas where the Taliban insurgency is strongest. Turnout was also surprisingly low (34%) in the capital Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, which is dominated by Tajiks.

Voting irregularities


During the 2009 Afghan elections, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald E. Neumann
Ronald E. Neumann
Ronald E. Neumann was formerly the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan and previously served as ambassador to Bahrain and Algeria . He is the son of former ambassador Robert G. Neumann and traveled extensively after college in Afghanistan while his father was ambassador there...

 recalled that the "indelible" ink used in the 2005 election to prevent people from voting more than once had turned out to be washable after all. The same problem had also occurred in the 2004 presidential elections, and was repeated again in the 2009 elections.

Electoral system


Approximately twelve million voters were eligible to vote for the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga, the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

 of parliament, and 34 provincial councils
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

. The 2,707 parliamentary candidates (328 female, 2,379 male) are all independent; parties are not recognized by law and lists do not exist. This has been the subject of criticism: relatively unknown people could win a seat as easily as very popular candidates. It has also made it considerably difficult for the population to decide who to vote for, even though some candidates may be a member of or (financially) backed by a political party.

Another source of criticism is the use of the single, non-transferable vote
Single non-transferable vote
The single non-transferable vote or SNTV is an electoral system used in multi-member constituency elections.- Voting :In any election, each voter casts one vote for one candidate in a multi-candidate race for multiple offices. Posts are filled by the candidates with the most votes...

 in multi-member constituencies, particularly in the absence of party lists. In other words, each province elects a number of members, but each voter can vote for only one candidate. This runs the risk of fragmenting the vote to the point where candidates can be elected virtually by chance. Early returns confirmed this fear. For example, in Farah Province, one of the first provinces to declare its results, 46 candidates competed for five seats. No candidate polled more than 11%, and four of the five elected candidates polled less than 8%. In Kabul, which had 33 seats available, most of the candidates elected received well under 1% while over 30% of the votes cast went to three candidates, with the leading candidate receiving over 25 times the vote of the candidate elected with the lowest vote share, and several elected candidates receiving less than 2000 votes. This creates the risk of a legislature in which the majority of members have little or no legitimacy.
Because a sizable percentage of the Afghan population is unable to read and write, all candidates had an icon as well. Those icons were included on the lists. These included, but were not limited to, pictures of footballs, car
Čar
Čar is a village in the municipality of Bujanovac, Serbia. According to the 2002 census, the town has a population of 296 people.-References:...

s or different sorts of flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s. Because there were not enough different icons, some candidates had multiple icons as their symbol: two or three footballs behind each other, like Gulallay Habib (page 16 of the Kabul
Kabul Province
Kābul , situated in the east of the country, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The capital of the province is Kabul City, which is also Afghanistan's capital. The population of Kabul province is 3.5 million people as of 2009, of which almost 80 percent live in the urban areas...

 parliament candidate list). For example, the candidate list for the Nuristan section of the parliament looked like this. Candidates were not able to choose the icons themselves: instead, the electoral committee chose them. Forty-five candidates were refused because of connections with armed groups or for not giving up their government jobs.

People vote for a candidate in their own province
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

. Each province has a number of representatives in parliament, depending on the population. The largest province by population, Kabul
Kabul Province
Kābul , situated in the east of the country, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The capital of the province is Kabul City, which is also Afghanistan's capital. The population of Kabul province is 3.5 million people as of 2009, of which almost 80 percent live in the urban areas...

, has 33 seats (390 candidates, 50 female, 340 male), whereas the small ones like Nuristan, Nimruz
Nimruz Province
Nimruz is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the south-west of the country on the borders of Iran and Pakistan. The name Nimruz means "mid-day" or "half-day" in Persian. Nimruz covers 41,000 km² and has a population of 149,000...

 and Panjshir
Panjshir Province
Panjshir is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Containing the Panjshir Valley, in April 2004 it was created from parts of Parwan Province, which now lies along its southwestern border. Panjshir's population is about 139,000 and covers an area of 3,610 square kilometers...

, have only two.

The total number of candidates for the provincial councils was 3,025. Each province, except Oruzgan
Oruzgan Province
Orūzgān or Urōzgān , also spelled Uruzgan or Rōzgān , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the center of the country, though the area is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar in the south. Its capital is Tarin Kowt...

, had women running for seats in the provincial council. Female candidates ran for parliament in all districts. District council elections, originally also scheduled for the same date, were not held in 2005 (district numbers, boundaries and population figures had to be determined first).

These were the first parliamentary elections in Afghanistan
Elections in Afghanistan
This article gives information on elections in Afghanistan.Though Afghanistan has had democratic elections throughout the 20th century, the election institutions have varied as changes in regimes have disrupted political continuity...

 in 33 years: after communist rule, civil war and Taliban rule, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban regime and after the presidential elections in 2004, parliamentary elections were organized in 2005. Originally, according to the 2001 Bonn agreement
Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
Officially the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, the Bonn Agreement was the initial series of agreements intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the...

, the elections were to be held in June 2004. However, due to the security situation, Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 (then interim President, now President of Afghanistan
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

) moved the elections more than a year to the later date. Security was still an issue, as Taliban and others threatened to disrupt the elections violently. Several candidates were killed before polling.

A quarter of the seats - 68 seats - in the parliament are reserved for women, as well as 10 seats for the Kuchi community. Those are minimum numbers: there is no maximum for the number of seats for those groups. The 102 members of the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house, are indirectly elected by the provincial councils.