DI has been working to support Afghanistan’s democratic transition since 2009, when it organized a comprehensive international election observation program for the presidential and provincial council elections. In 2010, DI organized long-term monitoring of Afghanistan parliamentary elections and provided analysis to local and international stakeholders regarding the electoral process and the need for electoral reform.


DI’s current project is focused on supporting an Afghan-led electoral reform process by engaging with reform-minded civil society activists and advocacy organizations, including primarily the Electoral Support Organization of Afghanistan (ESOA), a network of organizations committed to conducting research on and advocacy for electoral and democratic reform. As part of these efforts, DI organized and led four fact-finding missions for civil society leaders and elected officials to observe various models of electoral systems and administration, including trips to India, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand.


In addition to advocacy, DI’s program includes a research component focused on conducting innovative research to gather previously unavailable data on the potential policy effects of electoral reform and public opinion regarding the current system for civil society organizations (CSOs), members of the National Assembly, and government officials. In a major nationwide survey designed to measure opinions on political institutions, elections, and democracy in Afghanistan, DI conducted 8,620 interviews, including interviews in all 34 provinces. DI is building the capacity of CSOs by conducting training on both qualitative and quantitative research techniques in partnership with the National Center for Policy Research at Kabul University.


This initiative aims to develop a corps of trained researchers, thus enabling CSOs to initiate their own research on electoral reform without relying on expatriates for technical assistance. In addition, CSOs will be better able to communicate research findings to citizens of Afghanistan and key international partners.