Single-Seat Constituency Plan Draws Mixed Response
Governance and Rule of Law
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Written by Gullabuddin Ghubar
An Afghan woman casting her vote at 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's cabinet has unanimously adopted a plan paving the way for a single-seat constituency system in the election law.

But government's move for the single-seat system has drawn mixed response from election observers and monitoring groups with some arguing that the new plan could face challenges amid the prevailing situation in the country.

Observers have said that the plan needs long term efforts to be implemented.

A single-seat district or single-seat constituency is an electoral district that sends one officeholder to a body with multiple members such as a legislature. This is also sometimes called single-winner voting or winner takes all situation.

The alternatives are multi-member districts, or the election of a body by the whole electorate voting as one constituency.

"There is no exact figure about the population; borders between villages and districts so far have not been finalized; local lawbreakers still have a grip on localities; there is the possibility that we continue to fail to implement electoral transparency," said Naeem Ayoubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA).

However, Jan Dad Spinghar, head of the Afghanistan Civil Society Election Network (ACSEN) was upbeat about the decision.

"On the basis of article 83, it can ensure transparency and help us to prevent the previous experience during the elections in Ghazni province," he said.

The single-member constituency plan has also drawn strong reaction from the Afghan political elite and opposition forces.

"I don't think it is necessary or practical; they (government leaders) by making the move want to show the people or the world that they have not come (this far) without gains and that they are resolute in bringing reforms; it is just a deceptive move and they want to hide the issue of fraud, therefore they come and discuss these issues, " said head of Jabha-e-Naween party Anwarul Haq Ahadi.

Nevertheless, Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the national unity government, has described the move as a step toward holding the country's parliamentary poll.

"Significant progress was made regarding the election law, yesterday's decision opens the way for election reforms," said Abdullah.

In reference to the new plan, Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesman for the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said the plan will be sent to the president for final approval.

"At the cabinet meeting last night, the draft election law came under discussion – all the cabinet members presented their views and the plan was approved in principle; views and recommendations of them were included and the plan will now will be prepared for presidential approval," said Chakhansuri.

Elements reportedly incorporated into the new plan are apparently a 25 percent seat reservation for women in provincial and district councils, the allocation of one seat for Hindus and Sikhs and the issue of possible electoral fraud.