https://arab.news/5jgdk

South Asia’s oldest political party – Indian National Congress (INC) – is about to hold the historic election of its new President. It is historic because for the first time in the post-independence history of this 137-year-old party, no member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is a candidate for the party’s leadership. As a result, the contest for the top party office has become a real one unlike in the past when a member of Nehru-Gandhi family either got elected un-opposed or with a landslide majority making it an almost one-sided affair. This time a straight contest between two contrasting personalities, Mallikarjun Kharge, an old guard traditionalist on the one hand and Shashi Tharoor, a suave former Assistant Secretary General of the UN, author of several books, a relatively late entrant to politics and INC on the other. Papers of a third candidate, K.N.Triparthi, were rejected because the signature of one of his proposers didn’t match – obviously a technicality but showing how serious and meticulous the intra-party election process has been so far. 9000 INC delegates will go to the poll on 17th October. Another manifestation of the seriousness of the contest is an ‘Election Manifesto’ with a promise for ‘change’ unveiled by Shashi Tharoor. With this election, it seems, INC and probably the other mainstream parties of India have opened doors for a more robust intra-party democracy.

Earlier in September, British Conservative Party elected Liz Truss as its new leader and Prime Minister. In a two-step electoral process spread over months, about 172,000 card-carrying party members voted to elect one of the two finalist candidates.

Where does Pakistan stand in terms of intra-party democracy and, more specifically, election of top party leadership? If we look at the three mainstream political parties – PTI, PMLN and PPP - which command over 85% membership in the current National Assembly, the election of the top leader has been a mere formality since their inception. Even the formality is undertaken under compulsion because otherwise the Election Commission might cancel the party enlistment. There has, however, hardly ever been a competitive election.

JUIP (Previously JUI-F) is one of those few parties which hold reasonably competitive elections for provincial heads and secretaries though central president, Maulana Fazalur Rehman, has been generally elected unopposed. For example, in 2018, when the party central President was elected unopposed, elections did take place for Central Secretary General in a 900-member Central Council. Nine out of 10 provincial presidents and secretaries of the party were also elected through a competitive process.

It’s time the parties looked inward for a change and improved their internal democracies with a special focus on the intra-party electoral system; one that keeps pace with international trends.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob

Jamaat e Islami (JI) regularly holds elections but its electoral system is unique as no one is allowed to declare one’s own candidature as it is considered un-Islamic. The Central Consultative Council (Shoora) proposes names (usually three) of candidates for central president (Ameer) and party members vote for any one of these or any other party member whom they consider more suitable. No election campaign is allowed. About 39,000 party members voted in the 2019 election for the central president.

Among the three largest parties, PTI was the only one which took the initiative to hold grass roots party elections in 2012-13 with over four million registered voters. A mobile phone application was designed and polling stations were set-up for voters who didn’t own mobile phones. Some irregularities were reported in the election of senior positions such as provincial heads etc but sadly, instead of refining the system, PTI also adopted the same party election system as prevailing in most other parties as a formality.

The PTI National Council, with a total membership of around 500, elected Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Asad Umar as Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary General respectively unopposed in June this year. The election which was due in June 2021 was delayed by a year and held only after ECP set a deadline of 13 June 2022 for the purpose.

In the last PPP election in 2021, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Syed Nayyer Bukhari, Faisal Kundi and Rukhsana Bangash were elected unopposed as PPP Chairman, Secretary General, Information Secretary and Secretary Finance respectively through its Central Executive Committee whose total membership is around 70.

Constitutionally, the PML-N President is elected by a 2,000-member Central Council but is generally elected unopposed. Party offices in most of the remaining tiers are filled through nominations by the party head.

Intra-party elections in most political parties in Pakistan are a mere formality and do not conform to the spirit of democracy. This state of affairs is a serious constraint on political parties’ development in general and induction of younger blood in particular. It’s time the parties looked inward for a change and improved their internal democracies with a special focus on the intra-party electoral system; one that keeps pace with international trends.

- Ahmed Bilal Mehboob is the president of Pakistan-based think tank, PILDAT.

Twitter: @ABMPildat

QOSHE - The farce of intra-party elections in Pakistan  - Ahmed Bilal Mehboob
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

The farce of intra-party elections in Pakistan 

55 9 3
10.10.2022

https://arab.news/5jgdk

South Asia’s oldest political party – Indian National Congress (INC) – is about to hold the historic election of its new President. It is historic because for the first time in the post-independence history of this 137-year-old party, no member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is a candidate for the party’s leadership. As a result, the contest for the top party office has become a real one unlike in the past when a member of Nehru-Gandhi family either got elected un-opposed or with a landslide majority making it an almost one-sided affair. This time a straight contest between two contrasting personalities, Mallikarjun Kharge, an old guard traditionalist on the one hand and Shashi Tharoor, a suave former Assistant Secretary General of the UN, author of several books, a relatively late entrant to politics and INC on the other. Papers of a third candidate, K.N.Triparthi, were rejected because the signature of one of his proposers didn’t match – obviously a technicality but showing how serious and meticulous the intra-party election process has been so far. 9000 INC delegates will go to the poll on 17th October. Another manifestation of the seriousness of the contest is an ‘Election Manifesto’ with a promise for ‘change’ unveiled by Shashi Tharoor. With this election, it seems, INC and probably the other mainstream........

© Arab News Pakistan


Get it on Google Play