Democracy in Afghanistan

CS Monitor: Guerrilla chiefs to undercut Karzai.

This is an interesting article on the potential conflict between the U.S. backed Karzai and the various religious factions in Afghanistan. What I find interesting is the sub-debate about the potential pitfalls of a parliamentary-based system versus one in which the executive, the president in this case, has over-riding power. As I read it, it is a debate about whether the country is to be ruled through debate through elected representitives where the prime minister is accountable to the parliament, or one where the preseident can over-rule decisions of the parliament, and be accountable to no-one.

It seems that the U.S., and others, would prefer the latter. And yet, I thought overthrowing the Taleban was all about bringing democracy to the country?

Of course, there are some practical reasons why you would want to limit the power of a large number of factions in guiding parliamentary debate and policy, particularly when many of these factions are religious fundamentalists by nature. Speed of decision making is one.

It seems to me that endowing a president with executive power to overrule elected officials in parliament is fraught with bigger dangers. Although, if the author is to be believed, the people of Afghanistan don’t really mind who, as long as things are getting done and their needs are addressed.

However, given that the decision of how to structure the government will have much longer-term implications, it seems a little odd that a more representitive model isn’t the preferred option. Call me cynical, but it doesn’t seem that the interests of the people Afghanistan are better served by installing a political system that enables the president to over-rule the parliament elect?

I somehow don’t think that these factions will be particularly supportive of a leader that is seen to be somewhat of a puppet for U.S. interests in the region. Do you think they will simply accept the constitution if they do not get some share of the power structure?