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August 10, 2018

2018 polls quality lower than 2013’s: Pildat

National

August 10, 2018

LAHORE: In the Pildat (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency)assessment on quality of general election 2018, the overall score of quality of general election 2018 stands at 51.79 percent which has dropped nearly 5 percent from the quality of general election 2013 assessed to be at 56.76 percent.

Pildat has proposed investigation into those aspects of the election about which a number of questions have been raised by various political parties and candidates. The quality of general election 2018 has been assessed on four broad categories of (1) Pre-poll; (2) Polling; (3) Counting of votes, compilation & transmission of results and 4) Post-poll phase. Pre-poll phase which has received an overall score of 50 percent, polling day operations and arrangements for voting which have received the highest score of 64 percent counting, result compilation & transmission of results which have received the lowest score of 40 percent in the assessment and the post-poll phase which has received the score of 50 percent.

The Pildat assessment of quality of general election 2018 is a continuation of earlier similar assessments that have been carried out by the think-tank after general elections of 2002, 2008 and 2013. Similar assessments in the past assigned the overall score of 37.30 percent to the quality of general election 2002 and 40 percent to the quality of general election 2008. The scores improved for quality of general election 2013 at 56.76 percent but have dropped again to 51.79 percent for the quality of general election 2018. This drop in quality is mainly due to poor quality of pre-poll phase which is largely attributable to the factors lying outside the direct remit of the ECP.

Pre-Poll Phase: While the quality of pre-poll phase has received an overall score of 50 percent, it has declined nearly 12 percentage points in comparison to the quality of pre-poll phase of election 2013 which had received a score of 62.35 percent. While Pildat had already carried out analysis of perception of pre-poll fairness in May 2018 terming it unfair, the score assigned in this assessment has been based on the period between April to July 2018 and in particular is low on the parameters of neutrality of the federal and provincial caretaker governments, impartiality of the intelligence agencies and independence of the judiciary. The Pildat assessment shows improved polling day operations in general election 2018 as compared to election 2013 in terms of training and impartiality of polling staff and overall management of the polling arrangements for citizens as the process received an overall score of 64 percent. It must be noted that in terms of polling day management, a steady improvement is recorded since 2002 and 2008 when the process received a score of 40 percent respectively, improving to 44 percent in 2013 and now to 64 percent in 2018.

Counting, result compilation and transmission of results which have received the lowest score of 40 percent in the assessment. It must be noted that this is not just the lowest score for any single aspect of the quality of general election 2018 but it is also the lowest score in comparison to the processes adopted in 2002, 2008 and 2013 when the similar process received scores of 43 percent respectively in 2002 and 2008 and improving to 47 percent in 2013 general election which has, in 2018 general election, plummeted to 40 percent. Each parameter under the counting, result compilation & transmission of results, including strict legal requirements of transparency of compilation of statement of vote count, availability of results to polling agents and display at polling stations, efficiency and accuracy of the transmission of election results from polling stations to Returning Officers, transparency of consolidation of results at RO level and efficiency and accuracy of transmission of results from ROs to the ECP has been called into question.

The post-poll phase has also seen declining score of 50 percent compared to the score assigned to the similar process after the general election 2013 which stood at 68 percent. Again, the assessment of the quality of this process shows that while the lowest score assigned to this process was 40 percent after general election of 2002, which saw the worst of its kind post-poll rigging in recent history, the score improved after election 2008 to 56 percent, recorded significant improvements with the score of 68 percent after general election 2013 and has now recorded a decline even lower than election 2008.

This decline in the quality of post-election score compared to election 2013 may partly be attributed to the fact that the PML-N had gained clear majority in the National and Provincial Assembly of the Punjab in election 2013 and it did need to make intense efforts to win the support or joining of independent legislators to form the government. In election 2018, since no party has a clear majority in the National Assembly and the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, PTI and, to a lesser degree, PML-N are making intensive efforts to win support of the independent legislators and forming alliances with other parties. Normally these efforts are considered legitimate part of the democratic process and promote inclusivity in formation of government but reported pressures and inducements offered to independent members by one party or the other may have contributed to the drop in the score for the quality of the post-election phase.

The Pildat score card on assessment of quality of general election 2018 is based on combined analysis and scoring of eminent persons who are members of Pildat dialogue groups on electoral processes, quality of democracy and civil-military relations and met on August 01, 2018 in Lahore.

These include Maj-Gen (R) Athar Abbas, former DG, ISPR, Air Vice-Marshal (R) Shahzad Chaudhry, political and security analyst & former ambassador, Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani, chairman, Gallup Pakistan; Lt-Gen (R) Moinuddin Haider, former governor of Sindh Shahid Hamid, senior Supreme Court Advocate; former governor of Punjab, Dr Parvez Hassan, senior advocate, Supreme Court, Javed Jabbar, former senator, former federal minister for information & media development, Wazir Jogezai, former deputy speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan, Rustam Shah, former chief secretary, KP; Arif Nizami, Tasneem Noorani, former federal secretary, Ghazi Salahuddin, Columnist of The News, Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, and Pildat president and joint director, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob and Ms Aasiya Riaz respectively.

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