Price of politics

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The big parties are never shy about the high price they place on political expediency. According to a recent report in these pages, both the PML-N and PTI have set a ‘fee’ of Rs 200,000 before anyone seeking a National Assembly ticket can be considered a candidate. It seems too extreme to ask for something that doesn’t even warrant a person’s name on the ballot; However, looking at past trends, that doesn’t seem to be stopping many hopefuls from bidding anyway. While the parties argue that this ‘barrier to entry’ helps to weed out ‘non-serious candidates’, the question arises as to why a politician’s ‘seriousness’ to represent a constituency is measured in terms of his ability to represent the constituency. Insufficient funds. Are there better, more qualitative ways to measure each candidate’s ability to be a strong representative and responsible leader?

Perhaps it is unrealistic to think so. After all, money is what makes the world go round and there is no reason why democracy should be exempt from this rule. In order to succeed in politics, all parties must invest a large amount in the electoral economy and they need financial resources to do so. Ticket fees are a major source of income, especially in a political culture where individual contributions are not common. All the ECP needs to do is to strictly follow campaign finance laws to ensure that the money does not influence elections too much. Expenditure limits were recently increased by the PDM government to Rs10m for National Assembly and Rs4m for regional seats. However, many still believe that they will not be obeyed. It is up to the ECP to ensure that the political finance wing is adequately equipped to enforce the rules impartially and fairly to all contestants.

Published on November 28, 2023 at dawn



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