The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A Parody of Democracy

Sep 26, 2005

On Sunday, September 18, elections were held in Afghanistan to choose representatives to the national parliament and to provincial councils. No one knows the results of these elections, as the counting of the ballots is going to take more than a month, but they have nonetheless been presented as a victory for democracy. Kofi Annan, the general secretary of the United Nations, stated that these elections demonstrate "the clear determination of the Afghan people to pursue a peaceful and democratic development of their nation." And George Bush spoke of a "success," of an "important step in the development of Afghanistan into a democratic state governed by the rule of law."Looking at the circumstances under which these elections took place, one can only say that the representatives of the western powers have a strange conception of democracy.

To begin with, these elections took place under strict surveillance: thousands of men from security forces (both Afghan and foreign) were mobilized because of the fear that the voting stations would be attacked by the Taliban, who called for a boycott. Under these conditions, the "observers" claimed it was likely that 50% of the population voted.

Nor apparently did they bother to look very closely at the past of the 2800 candidates who ran in these legislative elections. Among them were former members of the Taliban, with pasts as little dictators and torturers; accompanied by a number of war lords who saw the elections as a way to legitimize in the eyes of the western rulers the power they exercise over the population they control through terror and assassinations. Even if 32 candidates were eventually excluded from the voting lists because of their "links with armed groups," many others remained. And during the last six months of the election campaigning, more than a thousand people, including seven candidates, were assassinated.

We were also told of "democratic advances" because some women voted in Afghanistan. There was even a quota of 25% of the seats assigned exclusively to women candidates. But the so-called defenders of democracy were not shocked by the fact that women had to be fully covered in head-to-toe robes and veils in order to vote, nor that they could not vote inside the regular polling stations mosques–where "purity" would be compromised if the skin on a woman’s hand might show when they dropped their ballots in the voting box. Thus, women were required to vote outside in the weather. At the same time, a young female television announcer was assassinated because she dared to show her uncovered face before the television camera!

But above all else, this parody called an election took place in a country at war, where the government of President Karzai survives only because of the force imposed by U.S. and other Western troops. Just what kind of democracy is possible inside a country under the armed occupation of the Western powers?