In a new survey conducted by Democracy International, almost 92 percent of Afghans said electoral reforms should be implemented before the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place before June. When asked if they trusted in the credibility of the national election commissions, just 19 percent of respondents said they did.
The survey results also indicate that corruption, insecurity and weak governance were considered the biggest problem areas in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, educational opportunities, partial security and road construction were recognized as major achievements among respondents. However, still 63 percent of Afghans polled expressed frustration over the living standard in the country.
Democracy International interviewed 4,020 people across 34 provinces, with 50 percent of respondents being male and the rest female. The key takeaways from the survey section dedicated to the electoral system are as follows: 92 percent of the interviewees called for the immediate implementation of reforms in the electoral system; 28 percent of the people indentified corruption in the election commission as the biggest challenge facing elections; 19 percent expressed trust in the credibility of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC); 57 percent said that participants in the 2014 presidential election didn’t vote on the basis of ethnicity; 90 percent said women should be allowed to determine their own votes; 67 percent said the recounting of votes in the 2014 presidential election improved public trust in the elections; and 62 percent said that the presidential elections reflected the aspirations of the Afghan people.
Regarding good governance, the survey’s findings were as follows: 85 percent of respondents vowed support for the national unity government; 82 percent expressed optimism about the success of the national unity government; 81 percent said the country was moving in the right direction; 94 percent said they trust President Ashraf Ghani; 71 percent said public trust in the Taliban has declined; and 61 percent expressed support for the peace negotiation process.
“We conducted this survey after the formation of national unity government, and the poll shows that a large amount of people await reforms in the electoral system and are willing to vote in the elections,” senior Democracy International advisor Zekirya Barakzai said on Monday. “Public perspective on the national unity government is positive and almost 85 percent of people support it,” he added.
The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), a major election monitoring group, welcomed the survey, but maintained its ongoing criticisms of the national unity government’s performance to date. “We strongly value the findings of this poll about the elections and it is a positive move, but regarding the national unity government, we have our criticisms, because only a few months have been passed since the establishment of the national unity government and already the new government has broken its commitments,” FEFA Executive Director Naeem Asghari said. Therefore, it is too early to issue a judgment on its performance.”
Based on Democracy International’s survey, just about 10 percent Afghans are concerned with the possible increase of security threats and the Taliban’s influence. Moreover, Overall public confidence in the country’s current situation has increased by 30 percent over the past two years.