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Electoral reforms... By Brig(r) Usman

31 January, 2013

Whatever has been agreed upon between Dr Qadri and the government is not electoral reforms; it's only the implementation of the existing provisions of the constitution in letter and spirit. It is a hope. We have a clear choice: continue with the existing, outdated first-past-the-poll system of elections or opt for a well-designed proportional representation (PR) system, in which constituency-based elections are discarded altogether and the entire country is treated as a single constituency. All political parties are allocated representation in proportion to the votes polled in their favour. Prior to polls, political parties offer a list of prospective candidates to voters, who then cast their votes considering party manifestoes and quality of candidates instead of individual contestants.

Representation of various sections and strata of society and professional groups can be ensured by appropriate refinement of the system. This can make significant qualitative difference in the standard of governance. Presently, there are more than 100 modern democracies, including Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil etc, where the PR electoral system is functioning. Designing an electoral system suitable for Pakistan should be the job of think tanks of political parties and research teams of universities. Transition from a fake democracy to a real democracy is in everyone's best interest.

Brig (r) Usman Shah
Rawalpindi

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