Washington International Law Journal


Article sixty-one of the Afghan Constitution requires a candidate to win an absolute majority of votes to become the president. This constitutional rule comprises a runoff clause, which prescribes a second round of elections between the two front-runners should no candidate win over 50% of the votes in the first round. While this article agrees with the majority view of Afghan scholars and politicians who see the runoff clause as instrumental to developing trans-ethnic coalitions and governments, it distinguishes between the formation of alliances and their consolidation. Ultimately, this article posits that the runoff clause actually impedes the long-term success of these coalitions. The analysis reveals that the formation of cross-ethnic coalitions under the runoff clause does not necessarily eliminate the likelihood of ethnic tensions during or after elections. Having revealed some inherent flaws of the runoff clause, this article introduces some alternatives to, and adaptations of, the runoff system, which have been adopted in the constitutions, and electoral laws of other multiethnic states. It examines these alternatives in light of counterfactual simulations using the last three presidential elections. Through these observations, this article contributes to the ongoing legal and political discourse on reforming the Constitution and the electoral laws that began with the National Unity Government Agreement.

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