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Afghanistan election: Karzai win spurs plans to improve governance

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As for the conduct of the elections, her interviews revealed that Afghans worried less about macro questions of fraud and influence-peddling, which they had assumed would take place anyway, and more on technical concerns about whether the ink was really indelible and the malfunctioning of hole punchers on election day.

Such problems, notes Ms. Larson, should be avoided by preparing immediately for the upcoming parliamentary elections this April.

"We need to start preparing earlier, getting the mechanisms in place earlier, to prevent the extent of corruption we saw this time," says Larson. One of the reasons for the last-minute preparation for this year's elections had to do with sluggish funding from donor countries, she adds.

Among the Afghan elite, there's at least some sentiment that democracy isn't the way to go for now.

"I think that we need a strong leadership composed of the enlightened people – we need an enlightened dictatorship," says an Afghan newspaper editor who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. "Democracy did not help us. Democracy means they are bribing people in the street."

Keeping Karzai in check

Then there are calls to move in the opposite direction, away from the current system of a strong presidency toward one that shares more power with the Parliament. This idea could gain momentum as the international community ponders another five years with Karzai as a partner.

Making such changes would involve calling a constitutional loya jirga – essentially an Afghan version of a constitutional convention.

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