Name? Ashraf Ghani
Westphalian Identity? Afghan
Why is he in the news? After months of delayed results, Ghani has been declared the (reelected) President of Afghanistan.
Why do we care? The latest Afghan election proved to be a test of the stability and endurance of democracy in the nation. Back in September, there was a mere 26% turnout for the elections and of that, 1 million votes were discounted because of irregularities. We are not ones to argue that democracy is the end all be all solution to everything, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care when the hope for democracy in a country appears to be dying, especially in the midst of extremist groups such as the Taliban.
Why should you care? Well, if you would like to travel to an even relatively stable Middle East in the near future, the health and strength of its governments should be of interest to you.
Who else cares? The U.S. government is trying to organize peace talks with the Taliban and hopes the Afghan government can also be a part of such talks. This will be extremely difficult if Abdullah Abdullah (Ghani’s political rival) does indeed form a rival government.
Any further comments? Just a quick note on the candidates; although there were technically 18 names on the ballot, incumbent Ghani and veteran presidential candidate (this is his third attempt at the presidency) Abdullah were the clear standouts from the beginning. Perhaps the best example of frenemies in politics today, the two have had to work with one another extensively in the past decade and yet remain political rivals.