Afghan Presidential Race Sees a Fractured Field

Afghan Presidential Race Sees a Fractured Field

Sunday was the final day in a three-week registration period for Afghan presidential hopefuls to file their candidacies with Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission. When the commission closed yesterday evening, having stayed open late to accommodate a last-minute flood of registrants, 27 candidates had officially entered the race to succeed President Hamid Karzai in what will be the country’s first democratic transfer of power, with elections scheduled for April 5, 2014.

The campaign will take place as most international troops prepare to depart the country by the end of 2014, when the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force officially expires. Meanwhile, as the registration process came to a close last week, U.S. and Afghan negotiators had come no closer to breaking their long-standing impasse over a proposed bilateral security agreement to govern any continuing U.S. presence in the country, raising the specter of a full withdrawal.

The historical significance and high stakes of the presidential contest notwithstanding, there has been little in the way of policy debate among the candidates so far. “The discussion is about names, not programs,” said Thomas Ruttig, co-director and co-founder of the independent research organization Afghanistan Analysts Network, in an email interview. Apart from some background political “themes”—among them controversy over negotiating with the Taliban—he said, “I personally do not see any more concrete political programs, apart from the usual slogans” about peace and national unity.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review