The internet campaign of an Afghan Presidential candidate

Cross-posted from The Wardman Wire:

With only around 1.5% of the population having access to the internet, it may look as if the role for online campaigning in the next Afghanistani Presidential election is rather limited. At least one candidate though is hoping to demonstrate otherwise in the run-up to voting on 20 August, with a second round if necessary about six weeks later.

That candidate is Ashraf Ghani, who is seen as one of the main possible challengers to the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai. He was previously Karzai’s finance minister.

Ghani has recently launched his multilingual website at with YouTube and Twitter accounts.

Given Afghanistan’s size and the risk and difficulties of travelling around the country, his campaign is looking to use the internet to encourage people to host events and run campaigning in their local communities. That way, even though the campaign may only reach a small number of people directly online, it is hoped to branch out to a much wider audience offline.

The logic is similar to that employed in many election campaigns in countries with far higher levels of internet access. Even if many people have internet access, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are interested in finding out about elections and candidates. So the idea of using online organisation to generate offline campaigning is a tried and tested idea which can work.

According to a briefing note from the campaign, the online activity is also aimed at the expatriate Afghani communities around the world. This includes around 200,000 in the US, 100,000 in Germany, 50,000 in Canada and 45,000 in the UK. Those communities can both donate and also influence voters back in Afghanistan through community and family ties.

So far the online campaigning record seems to be a little mixed. The Twitter account contains a curious mix of styles in its tweets, with little interaction with others on Twitter and only a small number of followers. On YouTube the viewing figures are low but respectable. The most viewed of the two clips there so far has been viewed more often than the least popular YouTube clips from the three main parties in the UK. It is the website that appears to be doing best with, according to the campaign itself, donations running into tens of thousands of dollars.

Such online campaigning may also have one (possibly intentional) side-effect. By taking his campaign to the internet, including in English, Ghani is also making it much easier for people around the world to follow his campaigning. If there are any allegations of electoral malpractice, that international audience may come in very useful.

Whether or not these efforts can have an impact on an election such as Afghanistan’s Presidential contest will be interesting to see.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Europe / International.

One Comment

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • john oundle
    Simon R 'But are we sure that simply admitting these people to the UK and providing them all with shelter and the means to build lives here is actually a gen...
  • nigel hunter
    We can equally campaign to fully replace the Overseas Aid budget to help the countries that the refugees come from....
  • TonyH
    Yes I have to agree with the criticism here of the way some quotes are being mis-represented. I love Andy's passion for the campaign, but I think using the "her...
  • Alexander
    By that logic, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson is the most credible person in the country. Maybe take into account her actual behaviour a...
  • Peter Watson
    In the article he is being criticised for, the Tory candidate writes, "I, like thousands of former clinicians, volunteered to head back to the coalface. There w...