Editorial : Electoral reform - Sunday 24th April 2011

A LITTLE over three years into the democratically elected government’s tenure, murmurs continue about the suitability of the current system of governance in Pakistan. We should remember that the democratic process can produce meaningfully representative results only if the election process is free, fair and transparent. Any sort of electoral misconduct — which covers the spectrum from rigging to inefficiency — renders the process meaningless and produces results that do not necessarily reflect the people’s choices. A report released recently by the International Crisis Group, Reforming Pakistan’s Electoral Process, points out how electoral misconduct and rigging has undermined democratic development, the rule of law and political stability; it has weakened the political process, brought in unrepresentative governments and facilitated interventionists. Calling for major electoral reform, including the functioning of the Election Commission of Pakistan — which it accuses of historically colluding with the civil-military bureaucracy to manipulate polls — the ICG
points out that in addition to structural reform and technical proficiency, a political environment conducive to fair elections is necessary.

There is little doubt that the electoral process here needs reform at almost all levels. Some of the problems are relatively simple to tackle: for example, installing systematic training programmes for ECP staff and putting in more effort to analyse flaws in past elections. Then, as the report suggests, temporary election staff should be barred from officiating in their home districts and observers provided unfettered access to polling stations. Making the ECP entirely autonomous and giving it full financial independence appears trickier. However, it is vital that the political parties arrive at a consensus and demonstrate the will to institute across-the-board electoral reforms; this is in their own and their constituents’, interest. With general elections scheduled for 2013, political parties must recognise that they stand to lose most if the elections are flawed. They must recognise that undercutting the electoral process in order to undermine each other, as was the case
during the 1990s, only shrinks the space in which they operate. Several allegedly faulty by-elections have already taken place, which bodes ill
for the general elections. It is time that parliament took ownership of the electoral process.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/24/electoral-reform.html

No comments:

Post a Comment