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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Election - the Afghan reality show
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Election - the Afghan reality show


do ya 'spose a show like this might have given us'ns here in the u.s. a better experience of our own 2008 elections...?
Producers of The Candidate, which airs on the privately owned Tolo TV network, are hoping to help by focusing Afghans on what they want from their political leaders. And Tolo has a successful model for its idea of tele-democracy: its wildly popular Afghan Star show, mimicking American Idol, in which millions of viewers voted via text message every week for their favorite singer. "One of the key successes of Afghan Star was that it demonstrated the concept of voting. So we started to think, how do we do the same thing in terms of elections?" says Tolo chief Jahid Mohseni. "One of the critical problems we have in Afghanistan is that we have a personality approach to politics - it's all about who the person is, his family, or his ethnicity. It's never about policy and it is never about the outcome you want. So we thought a program based on a competition about policies could change that."

Each week, the show's contestants debate a policy topic such as security, education, healthcare and the economy. Although a rotating panel of judges rate the candidates based on presentation, strategy and persuasiveness, it's viewers who get the final say, voting one candidate off the show each week starting with the fourth episode, and culminating a week before the real election. The show's debates have become part of the country's everyday political discussions, blurring the line between reality TV and political reality. "These six candidates are better than the real candidates because they talk about platforms and have a vision for what needs to be done," says presenter Jawed Jurat. Already, he says, some of the real candidates are copying the platforms of their youthful television counterparts.

the re-election of karzai, the most likely outcome of next month's afghanistan national election, will mean only one thing - same old same old - which, for a country like afghanistan, is equivalent to a worst case scenario... like so many other places in the world, afghanistan is crying out for real, authentic leadership, a commodity in dreadfully short supply virtually everywhere...


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