May 2013 elections were 'better' than previous polls: PILDAT

PILDAT report says that despite some charges of rigging, overall quality of elections improved in comparison.

APP August 04, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The overall quality percentage of pre-poll phase of the general elections held in May 2013 has been rated at 62.35% as compared to 30.59% and 32.94% during the general elections in 2002 and 2008 respectively, according to Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

Though there were some charges of rigging and irregularities by different political parties and individuals, the overall quality of elections showed considerable improvement over previous general elections in 2002 and 2008, said a PILDAT report titled ‘Assessment of the Quality of General Elections  2013’.

The PILDAT report said that in light of unexpected levels of complaints on the conduct of elections, it tried to assess quality of general elections 2013 under three broad phases - the pre-poll phase, the polling day operation and the post-poll phase.

The quality of election was assessed under certain parameters in each phase. Each parameter had been assigned equal weightage. Each parameter had been graded on a scale of one (being the lowest) to five (being the highest) indicating the best quality.

According to the position paper, the pre-poll phase of general election 2013 was a notable improvement when several significant developments took shape and some of them were implemented for the first time.

In a significant departure from the past, no major complaint was heard regarding the new electoral rolls.

The parameters about the comprehensiveness and fairness of the constitutional and legal framework for election as well as the accuracy of electoral rolls were rated at four grades out of five, showing better quality as compared to previous elections.

Similarly, the parameters regarding the impartiality of armed forces and intelligence agencies, the neutrality of caretaker governments and their support to ECP for holding free and fair elections also got high grades as compared to previous elections.

The parameters regarding independence of ECP and the level of its integrity as a whole and the independence of judiciary during the electioneering phase also received good grades.

The parameter as how far was the media independent of government influence indicated the best quality. The parameter about the satisfactory arrangements for voters to know the location of their polling stations also showed high grades when compared to two preceding elections.

Although the momentum of improvement in the quality of election that was set into motion in the pre-poll phase, it could not be maintained on the polling day or in the post-poll phase.

In polling day operations, the impartiality of the polling staff as well as the satisfactory arrangement to ensure that Statements of Vote Count are not changed after these are prepared at the polling stations got higher scores as compared to the previous two elections.

The overall quality percentage of this phase has been assessed at 46.67% as compared to 44.00% and 42.67% of general elections 2002 and 2008 respectively.

The post poll phase, favourable preliminary reports issued by international observers such as the EU Election Observers Mission, Commonwealth Observer Mission, NDI ANFREL Election Observer Mission and Government of Japan Observer Mission was considered as positive signs and so was the conformity of election result with professionally conducted voter intention surveys such as the IRI Public Opinion Survey, the PEW Survey, the Gallup PILDAT Survey shortly before the polling day.

Both these parameters received the highest score of four among the parameters for the post poll phases. The overall quality percentage of this phase has been rated at 56.76% as compared to 37.30% and 40.00% of general elections in 2002 and 2008, respectively.

"Overall quality of general elections in 2013 has been assessed at 57% which compares with 37% rating for 2002 election and at 40% rating for 2008 election," the paper said.