Monday, November 02, 2009

Constitutions Aren't Situational

Afghanistan is still struggling with its upcoming Presidential run-off. After being forced by the international community to have the constitutionally mandated second vote, Pres. Karzai now looks to be unopposed after his opponent, Dr. Abdullah. As a result, the Afghan Election Commission has apparently canceled the second round of voting. This bit of pragmatism was forced again by the international community who had now interest in paying in blood and money for the security around a second vote that would be a Karzai coronation. There's only one problem with all of these practicalities: they're unconstitutional. The Afghan Constitution is clear that if no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the first round of voting, a second round is required between the top two candidates. Democracy can only gain legitimacy (something it sorely lacks in Afghanistan) if the people in power respect the laws and constitution. If Presidents and election commissions don't feel obligated to follow the law, why should anyone else? It would seem to me that there is a fairly obvious way to solve the constitutional quagmire Afghanistan is in: hold a run off between Mr. Karzai and the third place finisher Dr. Ramazan Bashardost. Dr. Abdullah has said that he is no longer a candidate which would mean that the top two candidates remaining are Pres. Karzai and Dr. Bashardost. While I don't think the vote would be close, it would maintain the legitimacy of the constitution and that would be priceless.

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