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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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Of Ballots and Boundaries

Of Ballots and Boundaries

A Brief History of Political Participation in Afghanistan

(p.29) 2 Of Ballots and Boundaries
Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan

Noah Coburn

Anna Larson

Columbia University Press

This chapter gives a brief history of elections and governance processes in Afghanistan. Political participation in Afghanistan is largely a community process, with decision-making facilitated by and eventually evolving around the concept of loya jirgas, or tribal councils, from which the community is able to obtain a selection of political leaders. The loya jirgas and the smaller-scale ad hoc jirgas embody a sense of political legitimacy long ingrained within Afghan history. The jirgas are also indicative of the Afghans being no strangers to community involvement in selecting its leadership. Unfortunately, the international agencies in the years that follow would rarely acknowledge the local decision-making processes and instead establish new programs to “improve” governance as if they were building a democratic politics on an entirely blank slate.

Keywords:   elections, governance, Afghanistan, loya jirgas, jirgas, democratic politics, political legitimacy, community involvement, tribal councils

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