Parliamentary democracy | By Rizwan Ghani


Parliamentary democracy

It is time to call out Imran on his statement that parliamentary democracy is unfit for us so that he cannot use it in future.

State, Supreme Court, and Election Commission should prepare to deal with challenges of next election, governance and populism.

On 2 Dec 2022, a US judge ordered certification of Arizona Gov election result to meet its deadline.

Following reports that Trump would attempt a coup after losing 2020 election, state decided to ignore his illegal orders and follow the constitution (14 July 2021, CNN).

Similarly, criminal charges are likely against the supervisors for delay in Arizona election result.

US Supreme Court halt third party review of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents. The ruling will help the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House (1 Dec 2022 CNN).

Congress will get Trump’s tax details. Voters file complaints against vigilantes. 2022 is stress test for the US election system (27 Oct 2022, the WP).

History shows PTI, PMLN and PPP governments were more dictatorships than democracies. Look at record transfers.

Judiciary, bureaucracy and military need protection from PM. Parliament should make PM accountable through its committees.

PM should be answerable through daily PMQs instead of relying on Cablegate, Dawnleaks or Memogate.

Judiciary and establishments should be depoliticized and made independent (Plan to reform supreme court is attack on independent judiciary, says Labour 15 Nov 2020, the Guardian).

ECP should ensure democracy in political parties. The announcement of by election result in Chester city UK shows how politicians to behave.

All the candidates waited at the election stall where returning officer came and announced the result.

There was applause after the announcement of result of each candidate. Labour MP Samantha Dixon kept waiting until the end of announcement.

After that she made her victory speech which started with thank you to RO, election staff, and police for holding the election successfully.

Our political leaders have lived and studied in western democracies, but it is not reflected in their behavior and political parties.

The detailed contempt of court SC judgment on Imran merits review under Justice Yahya descent note.

After PM Johnson resignation on conduct charges, UK Deputy PM is facing bullying investigation for complaints filed by civil servants.

Under one country one law, Alvi and Imran merit accountability on SC judgment of Justice Isa mala fide in law reference.

Imran should also face parliamentary committee for creating court cases backlog by failing to create required number of courts.

Accounts committee should ask for expenditure of $47bn debt taken during his tenure. Parliamentary system is enshrined in the 1973 Constitution.

A general assembly cannot change fundamentals of the constitution laid out by the constituent assembly.

That is why 18th Amendment is also unconstitutional because instead of restoring original constitution it made 102 changes in it.

UK Supreme Court has stopped SNP from holding second referendum on EU (23 Nov 2022, the Guardian).

Experts opine that victory in election is not endorsement of referendum which political parties include in their manifestoes as voters vote on many issues.

EVM is another attack on democracy. Under The Securing of America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act 2019, US election systems have to use voter-verified paper ballots.

Under the US law, the votes are scanned for machine counting. Manual counting is used in appeals. The law also prohibits vote counting machines from being connected to the internet and being produced in foreign countries (27 June 2019, the Hill).

Vote counting machines are like banknote counters and they are not EVMs. There is need for electoral reforms. The way we elect our MPs is bad for voters, for government and democracy.

Our current FPTP system has failed in West. In UK, the experts are calling for proportional representation for having seats in parliament in proportion to the casted votes.

In 2016, Hillary got six million more votes than Trump but lost the election due to FPTP. Measures to restore voter turnout which has dropped to 51.7% in 2018 and cut 11.7 % increase in number of rejected ballots which is more than the majority needed to form a government.

UK prime ministers who win elections have a dubious mandate. Boris Johnson won 43.6% votes and 56.2 seats in the parliament.Labour won 32.1 percent vote and 31.1 percent seats.Lib Dems 11.5 percent vote and 1.5 seats.

A legitimate win for Boris under the current rules, yes, but “a mandate from the country,” no (30 Aug 2022, the Guardian).

It is equally true for Imran and PTI (16.8M votes/149 seats) versus 26M votes of PMLN (24%/82), PPP (13%/54) and Independents (23%) from 51.7% voter turnout.

From 1945 onwards, no party winning a general election in UK has gained 50% of the vote, yet often they have had a substantial majority of seats in the Commons.

Labour is not ready to replace FPTP system with proportional representation to avoid coalition government and Tories are happy winning for last 12 years (Why is Labour ignoring its own members on electoral reform? 30 Sept 2022, the Guardian).

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.