Facts and Figures About Afghanistan's Elections
Published September 12th 2005 in Reuters AlertNet
Afghanistan goes to the polls on Sept. 18 to elect a lower house of parliament and councils in each of its 34 provinces.

Following are some facts and figures about the elections, being held nearly a year after President Hamid Karzai won a five-year term.

* About 12 million of Afghanistan's estimated 25-28 million people are registered to vote in the elections being organised by a joint Afghan-U.N. commission. The minimum voting age is 18.

* There are about 5,800 candidates standing for the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) -- the lower house of parliament -- and seats on 34 provincial councils.

* Polls will open at 6 a.m (0130 GMT) and close at 4 p.m. (1130 GMT) although voters still in queues at the close will be allowed to vote. Election day is a public holiday.

* Women have been reserved 68 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, which will have a five-year term, and a quarter of seats on provincial councils. The nomadic Kuchi community has been reserved 10 lower-house seats.

* Constituencies are the 34 provinces. Seat distribution has been determined by population estimates. Kabul province gets most Wolesi Jirga seats, with 33, while the three smallest provinces -- Nuristan, Nimroz and Panjsher -- get two each.

* Voting system is single non-transferable vote. Candidates stand as individuals, not as part of a party list. Candidates who win the most votes get the available seats in each constituency.

* Even though there is more than one representative for each Wolesi Jirga constituency, each voter casts a single ballot for their preferred candidate.

* Voters will get separate ballots for the two votes -- to parliament and to the provincial council. With many voters illiterate, ballots list candidates' names, photographs, personal symbols and numbers.

* Critics say a voting system that favours the individual over political parties might not produce a truly representative result. Ballot papers will be long in order to list all candidates, which might cause delays.

* Councils will be elected in each province, with from nine to 29 members, depending on population. A council's loosely defined responsibilities include participating in development and advising administrators.

* Each of the 34 councils will select a member to sit in a 102-member upper house of parliament, the Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders). Another third will be chosen by the president and a third by district councils. District council elections have been postponed so many upper house seats will be vacant.

* Provisional results of the parliamentary and provincial council elections are due by Oct. 10 with final results expected on Oct. 22.