By Mohammad Zahir Akbari
Before everything we need to have a clear understanding about function, operation and nature of political party; Scientifically, there are several definitions for political party but commonly defined as a group of people having similar ideas about a country’s policies and seeking to gain political power. According to Max Weber, the existential philosophy of political party is seeking power and privilege for its members; this feature causes a permanent and sound competition among political parties to gain power through providing better programs and political services. This way the negative competitions changed to positive competition and play essential roles in democratic system such as opinion-making, acting as a watchdog, introducing candidates, bridge between government and people, and propose useful political programs.
In fact, the relation between democracy and political party is likened to two wings of a bird or termed as backbone of democracy. No bird can fly without two wings and no democracy can succeed without active political parties. Therefore, all pioneer democracies are based on strong and lawful political parties. As aforementioned, seeking power is the first and most important characteristics of the political parties that make it different from the other groups. the issue of power gaining must be said that the acquisition of power is the goal of the parties and that plans and policies are a means of gaining power. On the other hand, macro-party programs and policies may be the main goal, and power is the only means to achieve and implement party policies and programs.The political parties must have useful political, economic and social programs for people and country, and so they need to seek power through sound competition with other parties in national elections.
The second important function of political party is political socialization which means that parties aware people of values, norms, and political practices. Socialization essentially promotes the growth of political culture and ultimately makes people more active in the realm of politics. The greater participation of the people in fact increases the legitimacy of the electoral system. The Political parties should make effort to create coherence and unity among the people. In the absence of parties, people cannot communicate with the government individually and cannot express their wishes and opinions. Thus, the political parties have to shape public opinion which includes attitudes, values, and beliefs of the public.
In order to have a successful role, all political parties need to establish various levels of provincial offices following the structure of the state. The local party organizations are of particular importance for a stable and active party. Here, members can directly be politically active. At this level, they have the deepest contact with their party and politics in general. Local party organizations should conduct regular membership meetings, and support, promote and integrate (new) members. These should be invited to the party and district meetings and social events, as well as to discussions on local politics issues and local initiatives, for instance, residential redevelopment such as building road, schools, business settlements etc.
Moreover, political parties need to hold internal election and introduce professional candidates to external election, but in countries where there is no strong party system such as Afghanistan, known or unknown individuals may be independently elected. Individuals may or may not have long term commitment to serve the country; that’s why they easily deceive people with alluring promises during election campaign. Once they fill their pocket, other individual usually replace them in next election and this way the wrong cycle continue. While political parties, even after they won the election they try not to lose the public trust through providing effective programs and fulfillment of its commitments. Otherwise next time they will lose the votes of people and face a fiasco.
Legally, In Afghanistan, every citizen holds a constitutional right to form a political party so as to attain some common political goals. The right to form a political party is derived from the constitutional right of association, free speech, and equal protection. A political party is a voluntary association formed out of the free will and consent of those who created it. A political party upholds certain principles regarding public policies of a government. Lawfully, it must have at least 20 offices across Afghanistan; the purposes of these branches are to pave the way to get in touch with the people and receive the demands and supports of the people and also bridge between government and people. In addition, it should protect the people from the direct blow of power which may come from the ruling government.
Practically, the political parties in Afghanistan do not have offices across the provinces as required by law and they are affiliated to individuals and their founders. The affiliation of the parties to the individual or the founding members causes the parties to never have a standard organization and select their leaders on the basis of election and democratic process, and so they cannot gain trust of people and neither can continue its activities after the death of its founder. The life of the parties ends with the life of the founder of the party. The lack of organization also makes the parties financially dependent on their founding persons. Therefore, parties are more likely to struggle for the goals of a person rather than for goal of a group.
By and large, the Affiliation of political parties to individuals, lack of common purpose, the absence of an organization, and the lack of branches across the country indicates that we do not have political parties as it defined in political science and required by the ruling law. The Political parties are not able to play a constructive role in the country unless they start the reforms from themselves. Political parties should not be formed on the basis of sectarian criteria but merely on the basis of programs and meritocracy. (Courtesy: Daily Outlook, Kabul, Afghanistan)