Lahore School of Economics

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Firm political ties can strong-arm electoral process: report

The choice of candidates in electoral politics can be a long, difficult process, as illustrated by the system that exists in countries such as the United States.

However, in Pakistan, the selection process is different as the candidates are required to appeal to members of their own party for party tickets and then appeal to a majority of voters in order to win the seat.

The Lahore School of Economics, in their recent research focused on the 2013 elections’ outcomes that revealed party affiliation to matter more than the individuals to win a provincial assembly seat as votes were being casted to parties and not the individual.

However, to win a National Assembly seat, voters tend to choose more prominent and politically connected politicians – who are expected to bring about policy changes and reforms to their constituencies.

The survey, based on 142 key politicians in Lahore, from Pakistan’s three main parties – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) – evaluated candidates by testing the impact of their centrality on the likelihood of being allotted a competitive constituency, being nominated by the party and eventually winning the elections.

Political centrality was based on certain factors such as whether politicians themselves or their relatives have been members of a legislative body or the party and the number of years the politicians represented the party and been contesting elections. Non-political centrality was based on politician’s baradari (caste), educational level, family professions and memberships of any professional or social clubs.

Researchers found that parties preferred to field more central candidates from constituencies where a close contest was seen in the previous elections. The results also revealed that parties gave tickets to more central politicians in order to increase their odds of winning.

At the provincial level, tickets were only given to candidates who were politically well connected – both within and across the party. Sound political connections within the party ensured sufficient campaign funds being generated, while strong political connections outside the party could determine a larger vote bank.

At the national level, tickets were given to politicians who were socially well connected within their own party and across parties. Party leadership believes that having strong social connections will generate a larger vote bank because the electorate is more likely to recognise the candidate’s name.

The Lahore School of Economics funded research included the varsity’s researchers like Dean and Professor Azam Chaudhry and Mahnoor Asif.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9/28/2016 08:41:00 AM,

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