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How to lose your mandate

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Mandate is a sort of an authorization, given by the electorate to its representatives, to act on public issues. In functioning democracies, mandate is held sacred and violating it is tantamount to breaking a pledge or promise.

In dysfunctional democracies, it is violated at various pretexts which range from compromising for the sake of democracy itself to protecting the national interest.

In outright manipulated democracies, a mandate can be held hostage by both state and non-state actors. At times, it is also not possible to determine who actually has the mandate. For example, in Afghanistan an electoral exercise is held, a president is declared elected but nobody can be sure whose mandate he actually has. With more than half of the country out of Kabul control, the mandate is highly questionable. In India, which claims to be a functional democracy, the last elections were highly contentious as the opposition raised serious concerns at electronic machines used for counting.

In Pakistan, the people’s mandate is not only violated by manipulated elections and rigged referendums, it is also ravaged by the vagaries of venal or weak politicians. Venal, because most politicians come from an elite class that is ready to sell itself at a good price. Weak, because many who are not under the hammer of auction, end up under the hammer of heft which come from the high and mighty. The hefts of accountability, of contempt, of law etc are all exerted in varying degrees depending on the context and situation.

In one of my previous columns ‘The art of capturing the mandate’ (July 28, 2018) on these pages, I had outlined seven tricks to capture the mandate. Here we discuss the art and craft of losing the mandate using another seven steps or rather missteps.........

© The News International