General election 2024 records lowest fairness score since 2013: PILDAT

General election 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has released its assessment of the 2024 general election, indicating a concerning decline in fairness scores compared to previous election cycles.

“Overall fairness of the 2024 general election in Pakistan received a score of 49% which is three percentage points lower than the score received for the 2018 general election. Fairness assessment scores for the 2013 and 2018 elections stood at 57% and 52% respectively,” said a report issued by PILDAT.

“Overall, these scores, particularly the steady decline in them since 2013, are emblematic of the weakening of the democratic processes in Pakistan and they underscore the urgent need to restore public confidence in the electoral system.”

 To address these challenges, PILDAT recommended enhancing transparency and accountability measures throughout the electoral process. PILDAT calls on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct a thorough investigation into the delays and deficiencies observed during the 2024 General Election, particularly in result compilation, transmission and consolidation.

The report said: “The 2024 general election’s fairness score plummeted to 49% – the lowest since 2013 – signaling a troubling trend in election integrity. Despite advancements, the pre-poll phase has stalled at a 50% fairness score since 2018, indicating persistent pre-election issues. Polling day’s voting process score dipped to 58% in 2024 from 64% in 2018, yet showed a rise from 44% in 2013, reflecting fluctuating levels of voter experience. No progress in result management since 2018 with the score stuck at 40% – highlighting a critical need for inquiry into EMS operation. The post-poll satisfaction hit a historic low matching the 2002 score of 40% pointing to increasing public distrust in electoral outcomes.”

PILDAT Findings

It said that the PILDAT assessment of the quality of general election 2024 is a continuation of our earlier general election assessment reports that we have published every election cycle since 2002. The 2024 assessment report is based on our independent analysis alongside a questionnaire that was scored by a cross-section of civil society, comprising politicians, lawyers, activists, academics, retired bureaucrats and retired military officials as well as politically aware youth.

In the report, PILDAT has highlighted the following key issues which have negatively impacted the quality of the 2024 General Election:

It said during the pre-poll phase, PILDAT observed considerable delays in scheduling of the election, political repression, lack of impartiality from Caretaker Governments and State institutions and worsening law and order in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

On polling day, the suspension of mobile phone and internet services not only compromised the election management system (EMS) but also created problems for public participation in the electoral process, the report said.

“After polling was completed, the delay in the announcement of the provisional results beyond the deadline fixed in Section 13(3) of the Elections Act, 2017, prompted serious questions about the credibility of election. The widespread allegations of discrepancy between Forms-45 and Form-47 have also added to the concerns about the credibility of the election. The delay in the publishing of Forms 45, 46, 48 and 49 on the ECP website – a violation of Section 95 (10) of Elections Act, 2017 – has further damaged the credibility of the election. Lastly, the allocation of reserved seats to SIC continued to be a major point of contention for 25 days since the polling day while reserved seats were allocated to all other political parties,” the report said.

PILDAT Recommendations

“While the ECP had been effectively communicating its decisions and points of view prior to the polling day, this communication appears to have considerably slowed down since then. The issues listed above have not been effectively addressed by the ECP in their communications. Given this context, it is imperative that there are efforts to increase transparency and accountability so that public confidence in the electoral process can be restored,” the report said

“We recommend that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into (i) the delays in the transmission, consolidation and announcement of provisional results, (ii) the lack of contingency planning to meet result issuance deadlines in case of the EMS inoperability and (iii) the failure to publish signed copies of forms 45, 46, 48 and 49 within 14 days of polling day as required under the Elections Act, 2017.”

The report further said: “We also recommend that, in order to bring the controversies relating to GE2024 to a close, a clear path be decided for the way forward. There are only two possible avenues to consider. The first one is to allow Election Tribunals to resolve disputes on a case-by-case basis. Although Election Tribunals are given a legal deadline of 180 days to decide election petitions, many petitions take much longer to decide. PILDAT is deeply concerned that only two (2) Election Tribunals have been constituted in Punjab compared to eight (8) constituted after 2018 General Election and nine (9) reportedly requested by the ECP this time. This indicates that a much longer delay in deciding election petitions is expected this time. PILDAT strongly demands that the number of Election Tribunals be adequately increased to decide ALL election petitions within the legal deadline of 180 days without fail.”

It said: “The second one is, in addition to the election tribunals, to constitute a Commission of Enquiry like the one formed to probe the General Election 2013. The incoming National Assembly and the Senate should deliberate and decide whether a commission of enquiry be constituted to ensure accountability, transparency and political stability.”

“Overall, the controversies and challenges that dominated the 2024 election cycle in Pakistan point once again to the need for transparency and accountability to overcome systemic shortcomings and safeguard the integrity of future electoral processes.”

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