2019 Pashtun legislative election
249 seats of the House of the People
The legislative election in Pashtunistan took place 20 September 2019, contesting all 249 seats of the House of the People. It was the first election since the coronation of King Duran Daud Khan in 2015, and the first legislative election since the enactment of reforms during King Daud Khan's reign that removed several restrictions for voting and allowed more political parties to participate.
The Pashtun Social Movement, a civic nationalist and economic populist movement that advocates for ending the Pashtun Civil War through direct negotiations with the Taliban factions, won the plurality of seats with 36% of the vote. The New Pashtunistan Party, another populist party, came in second with 28% and the former ruling party, the National Unity Party, came in third with 14%. The two leading parties, both populist movements, negotiated to form a coalition government by September 29. The incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Qadir Baryalai of the National Unity Party stepped down on October 1, and Hikmatullah Zain, the candidate of the Pashtun Social Movement, was approved by the King and entered office on October 8, 2019. It was the first time since 2004 that the National Unity Party did not win a majority, and only the second time that this happened since the creation of the current electoral system in 1997. The Republican Party of Pashtunistan, the country's traditional opposition party, lost the most seats with many of its voters voting for one of the two newer parties.
The election saw the largest voter turnout and the largest number of parties participating since the end of Communist rule in Pashtunistan in 1992. The new coalition government, under Prime Minister Hikmatullah Zain, seeks to implement anti-corruption reforms, end the war with the Taliban, and get a withdrawal of all Anglo-American and other foreign troops from Pashtunistan.
Prior to the election, the rise of several newer populist parties that are somewhat modeled after populist movements in Europe, mainly in response to the public perceiving a lack of progress in implementing reforms in the country – dealing with rampant government corruption, inability to deliver electricity, water, and other services to large areas, lack of job opportunities and poverty, the ongoing military conflict and terrorist attacks. The National Unity Party, which had been in power ever since the current government had been established in 1997, had won majorities in every election since then except 2004. But by 2019 the public dissatisfaction with the government led by Prime Minister Abdul Qadir Baryalai had reached higher levels, and the rise of populist movements in other parts of the world also provided an inspiration to Pashtunistan's youth and pro-reform activists.
These include the Pashtun Social Movement, established by Alikozay Zelgai in February 2016, and the New Pashtunistan Party, established by Nesar Reza Stanikzai in January 2019. Both parties are essentially socially conservative, but advocate for major changes to the existing political and economic system in the country to address the stagnation in the present administration.
The current system is one of single non-transferable vote. There are approximately 15 million eligible voters in Pashtunistan, as of September 2019.
The election was monitored by League of Nations and other international observer missions. The Independent Electoral Commission of Pashtunistan registered voters and made an effort to encourage Pashtuns to go and vote. Due to the ongoing peace talks, the united opposition groups (including the Taliban) agreed to not carry out any bombings or other disruptive activities on polling centers or other targets during the election.
|Pashtun Social Movement||36%||88||Pashtun nationalism, economic populism|
|New Pashtunistan Party||28%||70||Economic populism|
|National Unity Party||14%||36||National conservatism, monarchism|
|Republican Party of Pashtunistan||9%||23||Republicanism, secularism|
|Islamic Democratic Party||5%||12||Islamic fundamentalism|
|Progressive Democratic Movement||3%||8||Secularism, republicanism, social justice|
|Union of the Uzbek Nation||2%||5||Uzbek nationalism|
|People's Party for Peace and Development||2%||5||Republicanism, secularism|
|Pashtun Liberal Party||1%||2||Secularism, gender equality|