Following the invitation and interactions with the relevant EU services, ECES was asked to develop a full project proposal to tackle the main issue of concern pertaining to the upcoming Afghan Parliamentary and Presidential elections, namely persisting vulnerabilities of electoral integrity inherited from previous electoral cycles. This is to contribute to the important efforts of the European Union, together with the other EU member states, donors and electoral assistance providers in Afghanistan, to support the peace and democratisation processes.
Recommendations from the 2014 EU Electoral Assessment Team (EU EAT), exchanges with EU services and senior personnel of the UN Election Support Project (UNESP) and UNAMA priorities for international assistance to the process have been duly considered. Each specific objective feed into a specific cluster, itself encompassing expected results from the EU financing decision and additional complementary results.
ECES’ project to enhance the sustainability and integrity of the electoral process is designed to support the implementation the following 2014 EU EAT recommendations:
- Reinforce the neutrality and impartiality of the election administration. As recommended by the EU EAT 2014: the IEC and IECC should develop measures to ensure their actions are in line with the notions of neutrality and impartiality, at all levels, through an accountability enhancement program.
- Reinforce the credibility of the process. EAT 5 recommendation suggests a few measures to enhance fraud mitigation measures. While the IEC will implement technical anti-fraud measures through UNESP support.
- A higher degree of openness – through a genuine stakeholder engagement (observers, party agents, media and donors) – needs to be secured throughout the electoral cycle and not only in specific phases closer to elections. Engagement should involve not only pushing out messages, but understanding opposition, finding common ground and involving stakeholders in joint decision-making. The EU EAT 2014 recommended that domestic observer groups should be granted a systematic attendance to the election institutions plenary sessions and open meetings. In line with this recommendation the IEC has established the National Election Forum as a coordination mechanism including regular meetings with political parties and domestic observers.
- Supporting measures to enhance the transparency of the process. Focus EMBs on bolstering citizen confidence by conforming to standards of transparency, participation, and accountability.
A broad approach to strengthening women’s political participation: women are still vastly underrepresented in government and political leadership. Affirmative actions to foster women's participation is one of the EU EAT 2014 recommendations.