How party tickets are awarded has been the subject of discussion in this space. Reader Aqil Sajjad together with a member of our team have worked on some suggestions on how to improve the process of awarding party tickets. Your feedback is needed so then a final recommendation to the party leaders on all of our behalf can be put forth. Please find below the suggestions . The whole article penned by Aqil Sajjad can be read here.
The Party’s District Election Commission should conduct elections for party tickets and the following conditions should be put in place to make them neutral and credible:
* To avoid conflict of interest, the election commission for a district should comprise members who are not from the same district or a neighboring one. If the party has branches in more than one province, then the members of the district election commissions should be from a different province to further minimize the possibility of conflict of interest.
* Members of a district election commission should enjoy a vote of confidence from the majority of all the party members in the district. This will make it further difficult for rivals to be appointed on election commissions to undermine anyone.
Moreover, members of any of the election commissions should a)not have defaulted on any loans b) not be under trial for any crime c) not have been found guilty of corruption or any other crime by a court of law and d) have been in the party for at least five years or the entire life of the party from its inception (whichever period is shorter) before being appointed to the election commission.
The eligibility requirements for party ticket candidates should be as follows:
* The candidate should have become a member of the party at least one year before the final date for filing an application for party tickets. This will make it difficult for ‘lotas‘ to switch parties easily.
* The candidate should not simultaneously be a member of any other political party at the time of his/her application for party ticket.
* The candidate should not be a loan defaulter or convicted by any court in any corruption case.
* To avoid conflict of interest, the candidate should not be an immediate relative of any member of the party’s election commission.
The process for the elections for party tickets should be as follows:
* All candidates should be required to submit their papers at least one month before the election for the party ticket.
* The submitted papers should include the individual manifestos of the candidates in Urdu, English and relevant regional languages.
* The list of all candidates along with their photographs and manifestos should be published by the party in a newsletter sent to all its members in the constituency. The photographs are being suggested mainly for the benefit of party members who are not literate.
* The newsletter should also include the names and photographs of applicants found ineligible on account of failing the criterion given above along with the specific reasons for rejection of their papers. This will make it harder for genuine candidates to be disqualified on frivolous grounds.
* In order to make the process transparent to the general public, the list of candidates and their manifestos for all constituencies should also be made available on the party’s website. The website should also include the names of ineligible applicants along with the specific reasons for their ineligibility.
* These lists and manifestos for all constituencies should also be available to any interested citizen anywhere in the country in print in return for a nominal fee. The party should be required to deliver the requested documents within 15 days of the request.
* The party’s local chapter should hold debates between the candidates in the presence of party members belonging to the constituency before awarding of the ticket. These debates should also be open to the media.
* The debates should be recorded and the recordings and transcripts should be made available on the internet through the party’s website. Any citizen anywhere in the country should also be able to obtain a copy of any such debate on cassette or CD and the transcripts in print from a party office for a nominal fee. The party should be required to deliver the requested items within 15 days of the request.
* All candidates should be required to present themselves in at least three debates.
* The election for the party ticket should be considered null and void if the turn out of party members is less than 50% within the constituency.
* There should be a run off election between the top two candidates if no one is able to obtain more than 50% of the votes cast.
* The entire polling process within the party should be open to the election commission of Pakistan, media and other independent observers to ensure transparency.