Open, keenly contested party elections, regular core committee meetings put PTI in top slot
Lack of regular party election and party bodies’ meetings, dynastic party leadership, no change in top party leadership for years make PML-N weakest, PPP second weakest democratic party
In a systematic analysis evaluating internal democracy of political parties in Pakistan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the “most democratic party” while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is ranked as the “least democratic party”.
The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) report on “Assessing Internal Democracy of Major Political Parties of Pakistan” concludes that the overall score of 43 out of 100 on internal democracy in the selected eight political parties depicts that the state of internal democracy of political parties in Pakistan is weak with serious gaps.
Within this overall score, the highest score is assigned to the constitutions of the political parties. The internal democracy guaranteed by the party constitution has received 54 percent score. Regularity of parliamentary parties’ meetings has received a score of 53 percent – second highest among the 13 indicators. Active participation of women, youth and minorities in the parties’ affairs has been given a score of 52 percent – the third highest score.
Democratic change in the top leadership of political parties has received the least scores – 30 percent – indicating that seldom do political parties allow democratic change of their top leaders unless it is forced by the circumstances such as death or, in some cases, exile. In the same context, the tradition of dynastic leadership has also found disapproval with the assessors and the question of how far is this practice discouraged in parties received a score of 45 percent. Credibility of political parties’ statements of accounts and their funding base has also been a matter of concern for the assessors and the second lowest score i.e., 35 percent is granted to this indicator. The third lowest score is granted to the tolerance of dissent within political parties which receives 36 percent score. Internal party election, an important indicator of democracy within the parties, has received 49 percent score, which is the fourth lowest score among the 13 indicators.
Open and keenly contested party election at all levels in 2012-2013 and regular core committee meetings have apparently favoured PTI to become the most democratic party while lack of regular party election, lack of regular meetings of party bodies such as Central Working Committee and National Councils, visible trends of dynastic party leadership and no change in top party leadership for the last many years seem to be the factors which adversely affected the democratic credentials of PML-N. Almost similar credentials impacted the democratic credentials of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which is rated as the second “least democratic party” among the eight parties evaluated.