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Derailing Democracy in AfghanistanElections in an Unstable Political Landscape$
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Noah Coburn and Anna Larson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166201.001.0001

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Understanding Elections in Afghanistan

Understanding Elections in Afghanistan

(p.1) 1 Understanding Elections in Afghanistan
Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan

Noah Coburn

Anna Larson

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter deconstructs the notion of democratization as a post-conflict operation geared toward peace, especially with regard to the political climate in Afghanistan. Democracy—and specifically the “political ritual” of holding elections—has become the default template for international interventions in peace-building. Yet in many instances, elections in Afghanistan have encouraged violence, stagnation, and the inequitable distribution of resources, conditions that most would consider very undemocratic. The problem here, however, lies in the failure to understand how Afghans perceive elections culturally. Sovereignty to the Afghans in particular entails the complex interactions of many different actors—such as tribal elders, the militia, merchants, party members, and so on—all of them engaged in enlarging their political capital by developing relations with government officials or institutions.

Keywords:   democratization, democracy, political ritual, elections, international interventions, Afghanistan, peace-building, sovereignty

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