2The Candidate On the Air The Candidate films an episode with the final contestants, Ajuba Dadqiq, 19, left and Muneer Farahmand, 20. The reality-TV show follows six young Afghans as they compete to develop the policies, campaign and support necessary to win a mock presidential election. Viewers cast their votes via text message.
3The Candidate Three, Two, One… The show airs on the privately owned Tolo TV networks, which has a sucessful model for its idea of teledemocracy: its wildly popular show Afghan Star, which mimicks American Idol by allowing millions of viewers to vote via text message for their favorite singer.
4The Candidate At the Table Contestant Dadqiq meets with her cabinet before going off to campaign for the day. Each week, the show’s contestants debate a policy topic such as security, education, health care or the economy.
5The Candidate Born to run Dadqiq’s cabinet members pass out flyers at Kabul University. The show’s contestants are given $1,300 a month to spend on real-world campaigning, including posters, rallies and travel to other provinces.
6The Candidate Home Turf Dadqiq makes a campaign stop at Cesai Academy, where she works as a teacher, educating an average of 400 students a day.
7The CandidateFocusedAlthough a rotating panel of judges rate the candidates weekly, viewers get the final say, voting one candidate off the show each episode.
8The Candidate Not Quite Ready Dadqiq is ineligible to run for the real presidency. Afghan law requires that candidates must be minimum of 40 years old. “By the time I reach the legal age to be President, I hope the people of Afghanistan are ready to accept a female President,” she says. “If they are not, I will work hard to make the people ready.”
9The Candidate Home Stretch Dadqiq and her family poses in their house on the outskirts of Kabul. She says she has always wanted to be President.
10The Candidate Going Green Contestant Muneer Farahmand campaigns near the Kabul River. His presidential platform includes promises to clean up both the river and Kabul.
11The Candidate On the Stump Farahmand campaigns at a school for the gifted in Kabul. The Candidate’s debates have become part of the country’s everyday political discussions, blurring the line between reality TV and politics. One of the show’s presenters says some of the real candidates are copying the platforms of their youthful television and counterparts.
12The Candidate Stop, Look, Listen On a mission to win their votes, Farahmand talks to residents.
13The Candidate Still on the Phone Farahmand poses with his family in their Kabul home.
14The Candidate All Politics Is Local At Kabul River, Frahmand speaks to a potential voter. “One of the key success 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 appraoch 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.
15The Platform Campaign: Toll-free Freeway Grounds: Taxes are paid to infrastructureEvidence: The revenue of toll is contributed to “personnel expenses” not directly to “road maintenance”Beneficial: Vehicle usersDefinition: Freeway (高速公路) Highway (公路)