Quality of democracy declined since General Elections: PILDAT

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Revealing its assessment of the quality of democracy in Pakistan for the period of June 2013 to December 2014, PILDAT and its Democracy Assessment Group have concluded that quality of democracy has declined in 18 months since the General Election of May 2013. The score on overall quality of democracy in Pakistan stood at 54% during 2012-2013 while it declined to 44.3% at the end of 2014. A report launched at a roundtable discussion hosted by PILDAT here on Wednesday says that factors that positively contributed to quality of democracy during the period were smooth transfer of power, maturity by the ruling party in allowing for formation of Governments in KP, Balochistan and AJK, smooth appointments of Heads of Institutions such as the President, Army Chief and the DG ISI, even though the Chief Election Commissioner could not be appointed without inordinate delay, holding of Local Government Elections in Balochistan even though it introduced a weak system, supportive role by the opposition for the elected government in the face of protests by the PTI and the PAT and continuing public support for democratic dispensation.  Further the factors that have negatively impacted on quality of democracy include a Prime Ministerial and not Cabinet form of government, formation of the National Security Committee weakening the authority of the Federal Cabinet, especially in the presence of uniformed members, Azadi and Inqilab Marches, weak performance of elected institutions, lack of movement on local governments, increasing ascendancy of military, media controversies and weakening of the ECP and lack of required momentum forward on instituting  electoral reforms. Speaking at the roundtable Dr. Niaz Murtaza, Development and Political Economist, said that Pakistan must first move from being a transitional to a stable democracy before it can become a mature democracy. While macro-level societal structures act as overall background binding constraints there too, the most critical difference between transitional and stable democracies relates to the balance of power among societal institutions. He said that the biggest single challenge in the way of Pakistan’s graduation from a transitional to stable democracy is the rethinking of the Military’s informal powers despite the setbacks suffered during this period. Until Army enjoys such informal powers, the chances of a formal take-over cannot be ruled out. The Round table discussion was attended by large number of experts, MPs, media, academia and civil society.

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