An election system that inspires public confidence is critical to strengthening democracy in Pakistan. The existing constitutional, legal and administrative system for conducting elections is inadequate to meet internationally accepted standards of electoral freedom, fairness, neutrality and transparency. The system needs comprehensive reforms to enhance the quality of future elections, thereby providing support for democracy to take firm root. There is already an agreement of interested national and international organizations about the shape of electoral reforms that are critical to improving the quality of future elections.
In the wake of May 2013 elections, there is wider demand for electoral reform from public as well as leading political parties. Consequently, a 33-member all-party bicameral parliamentary committee for electoral reform has been constituted to look into the gaps in the electoral processes in the country.
A nationwide campaign on the need for wide-ranging electoral reforms is critical to support advocacy that is currently being undertaken by national and international organizations interested in improving the electoral system in Pakistan. In this regard, public engagements with relevant stakeholders at the local level will help magnify citizens’ voices and also remind political parties of the public demand for electoral reforms.
Recently GEESE signed the agreement with Citizen’s Voice Project to strengthen masses’ voice by raising awareness through its active interventions at grass root level. The Citizens’ Voice Project funded by USAID aims to bring electoral reforms by;
- To strengthen citizens’ voice through, among others, focused engagements with political parties, media, professional associations and election management body for electoral reforms, as recommended by national and international election observation groups after the General Election 2013.
- To strengthen citizen oversight of the electoral processes including but not limited to up-gradation of electoral rolls, delimitation of electoral constituencies for greater transparency and accountability.
In this project GEESE would reinforce oversight of relevant public bodies and advocate for reforming relevant laws, policies, practices or public attitudes for electoral reforms in Pakistan. We expect to substantially raise awareness through media, political parties, elected representatives, public bodies and youth volunteers in advocacy for electoral reforms. This project is meant to inform, sensitize and mobilize political parties, provincial and national legislators and all relevant stakeholders about the importance of electoral reforms in Pakistan. It will be implemented in 03 districts of Hazara Mansehra, Battagram, and Kohistan. Under this project, multiple types of activities will be carried out from Aug 2015 to Feb 2016, which will include, among others, formation and capacity building of District Electoral Reforms Groups (DERGs), formation and capacity building of Youth Volunteers group, monthly Meetings of DERG, engagement with district level leadership of Political Parties, engagement with provincial and national legislators (MPAs, MNAs, Senators etc) on the need for reform, briefing with media on electoral reforms, conventions on election reforms at the district level, distribution of IEC Materials, support of signature-based public petition(s) for electoral reforms, organizing public seminars in colleges and/or universities at district level on election reforms, public forums and meetings with District ECP Officials about electoral reforms. The project consists of four main components; (1) Mobilization of Project Resources,2) Identification and Training of Activists and Youth Volunteers3) Assessment and Data Collection; and 4) Advocacy on Identified Issues.
It is expected that the project will contribute to strengthening citizens’ voice and advocate for electoral reforms in Pakistan.