Democratic Underground

Democratic Underground


Democratic Underground


In the realm of internet discussion forums, it would be hard to find one more dedicated to political activism, advocacy and organizing than Democratic Underground. And for good reason: the site boasts over a million members who are able to discuss CIA-linked torture, the so-called "death panels" of the Affordable Health Care Act, and any number of contentious issues using the expressive medium of asynchronous, threaded discussion.


In the early phase after 2001, Afghans in general found democratic principles to be attractive. They contrasted these principles with their experience from three successive anti-democratic regimes, which were accompanied by state and morale collapse, general lawlessness, and impunity. In 2004, a survey showed that only 12% of Afghans rejected democratic reforms, but they wanted them be harmonized with Islamic principles. The authors concluded: “It seems that no strong opposition to democracy develops … from the support of sharia.

In the post-2001 period, political parties in general — and the democratic ones in particular — have been sidelined in the political process, particularly from elections. In 2003, the government procrastinated about the political party law. The parties repeated the mistake of their moderate colleagues in the 1960s, waiting too long for the official “green light” to become active. During the 2005 parliamentary and provincial council elections, only individual candidates were allowed to run but they were not permitted to add their party affiliation on the ballot papers — in contravention of the law. The complicated voting system (SNTV) added to the marginalization of parties. The United Nations contributed with sham consultations held with the parties after the decision on the electoral procedure already had been made. A leading force behind this exclusion was the President, who had adopted the populist belief that parties in general were responsible for the civil wars During the 2009 presidential elections, almost all Afghan political forces — including the democrats — were divided about which candidate to back. Most of them finally opted for Dr. Ashraf Ghani and his reform program because, as one party leader said, he was “the most democratic amongst the candidates.” Even parties from the same alliance opted for different candidates. This reflects the fact that personalities still weigh heavier than programs, and that the internal cohesion of those parties and alliances is still weak. On the other hand, it is the potential strength of pro-democratic parties that they try to overcome the ethnic divide and to develop “national” programs (Source: www.mei.edu)


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