Parliamentary Elections & Legitimacy Crisis

According to article 83 of the constitution of Afghanistan, on 1st Saratan (June 21) the term of Parliament will terminate. It is written in the constitution: “The working period of the parliament shall terminate after the disclosure of the results of the elections, on the 1st of Saratan of the fifth year and the new parliament shall commence its term”.

Up to now, the National Unity Government is not prepared for parliamentary elections. Last year, after electoral crisis, both sides of the NUG agreed that they will bring reforms in electoral system, after the cabinet was constituted.

The Memo of NUG says: “To make sure that the upcoming elections would be free and fair, the electoral system needs basics changes”. It maintains: “The President shall, according to agreement, after formation of government, order a commission for reform on the mentioned issue, through an ordinance”.

Cabinet of NUG was constituted lately; even until now the defense minister is not taken confidence vote from the parliament, that’s why reformation of electoral system was delayed. Then President Ashraf Ghani selected Shokria Barakzai as head of special commission for electoral reforms, but Abdullah Abdullah was against it.

Now, the majority members of Parliament blame government for all this. They are trying to continue their period and say, in constitution “After Election” is mentioned. According to their interpretation, their term will be extended until new election is held.

The Frist violation of Constitution!

Normally, National Unity governments are established in countries, where both sides fought against each other for years, and constitution is delayed and no one can trust each other. In order to establish confidence, a government is being constituted on which all sides agree. In Afghanistan, the National unity government was made out of context. Here, establishment of National unity government was violation of constitution; because constitution has no chapter and no article on this.

When NUG was formed, no one cared about the constitution. Everyone was trying to break the impasse over the results of election. US secretary of state, John Kerry prioritized stalemate breaking, not the constitution. US government never respected Afghan Constitution. When in 2009, US government did an outlaw request to Hamid Karzai; he said it’s against the constitution, and the American Secretary of State replied, ‘burn the constitution!’

No one can legitimize this government of Afghanistan. Because, it is known that NUG is illegal. Even when the head of election commission announced the results of Presidential election, he did not clearly declare the winner and loser.

The Continuation of Legal Vacuum

From the very beginning, the NUG has violated the law and constitution. At that time, it was a great success to reach a consensus. But it created many problems. For instance, executive office was illegitimate. Its budget is also a legal problem.

If grieve disagreements have not been existed between the two factions of NUG, then cabinet might have been formed on time and, then, reforms of electoral system and Loya Jirga would have been summoned and the illegitimacy of NUG would have been easily removed. But, all this would have happened if it was on time. However, now, the parliament faces such a legitimacy problem that cannot have been created without the poor performance of the govt.

Why Parliamentary Elections are delayed?

These are the basic reasons for the postponement of parliamentary elections:

  • Disagreement over 2014 Presidential elections result between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah.
  • After 2014 Presidential elections, both factions endeavored to constitute cabinet. It wasted nearly a year, which resulted in delay of parliamentary elections.

Barriers to Parliamentary Elections

The following points are the main obstacles to parliamentary elections:

  • Lack of Funds: The Head of independent election commission Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani has said that parliamentary elections would delay due to lack of funds. He added that all the funds of parliamentary election were spent on the second round of presidential elections. Nuristani said that, after UNDP denied granting funds, 960 people have lost its jobs.
  • Security: The ongoing war in Afghanistan is another crucial obstacle to free and fair elections. Due to insecurity, Parliamentary elections may be held in different stages, so security personnel can concentrate on different regions.
  • Reforms in Electoral System: After recent controversial elections, NUG decided to reform the electoral system. Shokria Barakzai was selected as the head of reform commission, but due to disagreement of Abdullah, she was removed from the mentioned post.

The Challenge of Illegitimacy!

Unfortunately, the NUG has gradually committed illegal acts. Starting with the Saratan 1st (22 June) none of the three organs of the government would have legitimacy. First of all, chief executive office was formed illegally. Judicial organ is already governed by acting head. The only organ, which was according to law, was legislative organ. After 22 June, the legislative organ would be illegitimate.

Legislative organ cannot gain legitimacy from judiciary, because judiciary is headed by acting head.

Last week, a Member of Parliament has explicitly said that both president and Supreme Court do not have legitimacy.

That’s how; systematically a series of violations of law were started. This series will continue, even after June 22. Apparently, NUG will be based on political agreement, let the lower house of Parliament continue illegally, so the only legal organ of the NUG will cease to be legitimate. On the other hand, it does not seem possible that elections will hold soon and the crisis of illegitimacy will be solved. If both factions of government do not endeavor to solve the problems, the crisis of illegitimacy will also affect NUG’s legitimacy.


Although the predecessor government of NUG had many problems, but it didn’t faced the crisis of legitimacy. Mostly, elections were holding on time and Member of Parliaments were granting legitimacy to the government. Despite the other problems, NUG faced the lack of legitimacy. All the three organs of government blame each other for the lack of legitimacy.

The ruling illegitimacy crisis had these conclusions:

  • Government may lose the confidence of people.
  • While negotiating with the Taliban, the government always stressed on the constitution. Now, when the government is not in accordance with the constitution, how comes they demands the Taliban to follow it?
  • The entire fund that was spent on legal sector was lost.
  • People of Afghanistan will lose their confidence in elections.
  • Not only election, people will lose its confidence on democratic process and what is called ‘achievements of 13 years’ will be treated with doubts.

The End

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