More democracy or less?

The Senate elections left indignation, confusion and stories of betrayal and betrayal. But amid widespread accusations and gloom over corruption and horse trading and the involvement of undemocratic players, some voices focus on the wider issue of how elections are held, both for the Senate and for the post of president. They perform it.

So, while there was intense analysis of the dissidents of the Muslim League – Movement for Liberation and what Asif Ali Zardari did or perhaps did not do with or without the knowledge of Balu Bhutto Zardari, there were those who asked why there is no election of the Senate ever in the elections. Fair share differences (about vote buying and sudden election of candidates); why there should be expectations from senators whose choice of Senate is full of questions; and why a secret vote is needed to begin.

In fact, opposition parties now claim that they will move to change the secret ballot in an open ballot to avoid a repeat of last week when a non-credit movement was accepted after 64 Senate senators backed their support, but only 50 votes were counted after the vote.

This requirement to get rid of secret ballot was one of those that PTI supported when the parties were finalizing the 2017 election law but failed to make progress because they lacked support. This time, if the opposition parties are serious enough about the change, it will be interesting to know whether the PTI will support the idea or take another turn, taking into account how secret voting helped it last week.

But regardless of the ruling party, some observers also spoke in favor of a secret vote, because it allows individual parliamentarians to exercise the freedom of choice (regardless of the motives behind it); otherwise, they will have no choice but to follow the line of the game. Although the party’s discipline should not be taken lightly, there is also the question of how to shape the party line democratically.

In other words, the debate that began last week is not simple. It is about the broader problem of political parties that are not only weak in terms of institutions but also of foreign intervention. Both have partially led to central (and sometimes authoritarian) decision-making.

After passing over and over again with the departure of some in their range to get greener Pastures (than the Constitution Street), party leaders in PPP and PML-N have become small kitchen cabinets (which are literally family run parties with little outside consultation). PTI is not entirely different, although it has never been subjected to forced shackling as did the main parties.

For example, one member of the PML-N wallah once made clear that the decisions taken by Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Yitzhak Dar. If these three are unable to agree on an issue, the second level will be moved to include high-level leaders such as Shahid Khakan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and others. If they can not find the answer, then I’ll go to the third level and then to the whole party! But some problems were so unimportant that they leaked so far.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) does not work very differently. Many in Islamabad discuss “history” in which a message was sent to imprisoned Asif Ali Zardari, who later managed to tell some senators to vote in a certain way in the August 1 elections.

The lack of trust between senior leaders and their leaders is what drives the parties to see parliament as a forum where individuals must be “controlled”. It is this motivation, in part, that leads to movements such as turning a secret ballot into an open ballot. There is a similar motive behind those who suggest that Senate elections (which are difficult to “control” again) must be through a “list system” rather than a vote, allowing parliamentarians to exercise their “choice” and deprive parties of the “legitimate part.”

The problem here is not only of the “volatile” legislators who are supposed to sell their votes or help someone (Chaudhry Sarwar who comes to the Senate is a good example), but also the fear that the institution will be shaken or pressed. Vote against your party line.

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