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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pakistan - Electoral Reforms, Mixed PR electoral system, German model is the answer to corrupted system

PROPOSALS by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms to resolve operational problems of our electoral system would facilitate fair and free elections. The committee has not proposed systemic reform by changing the electoral formula. It has favoured the present system requiring relative majority of votes to win in a single-member constituency for national and provincial assemblies.
This individual-oriented system of disproportional representation on the basis of a dubious majority is not suitable for Pakistan. Originally introduced for local bodies, this system has localised the body politic of the country.
Many persons elected under this system lacked the quality of national leadership. Votaries of this system should realise that governance of Pakistan is too complex a matter for local influential persons with local bias.
Alternatively, a modified German system of the party-oriented mixed proportional representation on the basis of a genuine majority is needed for Pakistan. With provisions of single-member and multi-member constituencies, it would integrate voter-representative and vote-seat relationships.
Such a system would enhance ability of leaders to steer the ship of the state. Hopefully, better elected leaders would strengthen democracy and block the way for self-appointed leaders of the disappointed nation.
Another model of this system was proposed by famous German psychologist Dieter Nohlen in his book Electoral System: Options for Pakistan(1995), published by German organisation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Islamabad). He opined that “electoral systems are important elements which mould the structure of a representative democracy.
Taraq Jazy, Islamabad, Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2017: https://www.dawn.com/news/1316972/pr-electoral-system


Why Electoral Reforms in Pakistan?

Image result for german electoral system

Electoral system of Germany

Germans elect their members of parliament with two votes. One vote is for a direct candidate, who ought to receive a plurality vote in his election district. The second vote (considered as more important) is to elect a party list in each province as established by its respective party caucus. Half of the Bundestag is then filled with candidates that won their electoral districts by the first votes and the other half by candidates from the party lists according roughly to the proportion the parties receive from the second votes according to a complex mathematical formula. Common practice is that direct candidates are also placed on the electoral lists at higher rankings as a fall-back if they do not win their districts.
Voting system:
The voter has two votes. The federal election system distinguishes between 'first' and 'second' votes. However, these terms refer neither to a hierarchical order of importance of the votes, nor to a logical (chronological) sequence in a valid election process. According to public polls, about 70% (2002) to 63% (2005) of the voters mistakenly thought the first vote to be more important than the second. In some state election systems that have two voting systems modelled after the federal election setup, the votes are called 'vote for person' and 'vote for list'. It is important that both votes have distinct functions.
First vote
The first vote allows the elector to vote for a direct candidate of his constituency, who applies for a direct mandate in the Bundestag (see illustration above, no. 2). Relative majority voting is used, which means that the candidate who receives most of the votes gets the mandate. If the vote results in a tie, the lot drawn by the leader of the regional election is decisive. In this case, the votes for the other candidates are invalid. The primary function of the first vote is to personalize the election. As there are 299 constituencies at the moment, the same number of mandates in the Bundestag are distributed to the elected candidates in each district. However, the first vote does not determine the power of the parties in the Bundestag. For each direct mandate in a Bundesland the party always receives one mandate less from the second vote.
The size and the geographical shape of the electoral constituencies are revised by an electoral committee appointed by Germany's Head of State. The final decision is made by the German Bundestag and can be found in an attachment to the federal electoral law.
Second vote
For the distribution of seats in the German Bundestag, the second vote is more important than the first vote. This second vote allows the elector to vote for a party whose candidates are put together on the regional electoral list. Based on the proportion of second votes, the 598 mandates are distributed to the parties who have achieved at least 5 percent of valid second votes (see election threshold). Since the 1987 German Bundestag elections, the distribution of seats was made according to the Hare-Niemeyer method. Due to a change in the law passed in January 2008, the distribution of seats is now made according to the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method.
The proportion of seats a party gets in the Bundestag approximately equates to the percentage of votes the party gets in the election. Discrepancies result from overhang and the election threshold. According to §6, para. 1, clause 2 of the Federal Election Law the electors' second votes are not accounted for if those electors give their first votes to a successful and autonomous direct candidate (a candidate who is not nominated by a party). This rule is designed to prevent a double influence on the composition of the Bundestag.
A similar problem occurred at the Federal Election in 2002. The PDS got two direct mandates in Berlin, but with only 4.0% of second votes they failed to pass the election threshold. The second votes from the electors who voted for those direct candidates counted nevertheless, since in this case both candidates belonged to a party which had handed in a regional list in the respective Bundesland. In its decision of November 23, 1988 (Federal Constitutional Law 79, 161), the Federal Constitutional Court pointed out the relevant loophole in the Federal Election Law to the legislative body. Abolishing the system with first and second votes with the possibility of splitting votes – meaning the elector's option to vote for a direct candidate and for a party independently – would solve the problem automatically.

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