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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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A House of Sand

A House of Sand

The Fallout of the 2005 Parliamentary Election

(p.63) 4 A House of Sand
Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan

Noah Coburn

Anna Larson

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the failure of the Wolesi Jirga (the lower house of parliament) to create an effective opposition force to President Hamid Karzai, particularly following the elections of 2004 and 2005. Opposition politics has become a key criterion of democratic institutions, as they act as a sort of insurance to government policy, by providing open critiques, alternatives to government policy, and so on. The lack of a consolidated opposition in the Afghan parliament has been often lamented since its 2005 inception, however. The problem itself has deep historical roots, born at least partially from the Afghan state's long-standing paranoia about any potential challenge to its authority. However, the electoral system in particular indirectly enforced the power of ethnic and regional strongmen by strengthening the older state model of patronage, though the parliamentary system itself had been vulnerable to manipulations from the beginning, thus discouraging opposition outright.

Keywords:   Afghan parliament, Hamid Karzai, Wolesi Jirga, opposition politics, government policy, electoral system, patronage

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