Senate election

The failure of the KP Assembly to elect Senators threatens the rest of the process

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this Senate election is that one Assembly could not elect any members. Senate elections are supposed to be boring. Even though they are held according to the single-transferable vote method of proportional representation, the results should be fairly predictable, and should follow party lines. However, in the sole Assembly where it has a majority, the PTI is refusing to administer oath to the members for reserved deats, 21 on women’s seats, four on minority seats, notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan, as it wants the seats allocated to the Sunni Ittehad Council, which the independents it backed have joined. This is not merely a principled stand, but has an effect on the Senate results, because the Senate results would be affected. Because the 91 SIC MPAs were excluded, the JUI(F)’s seven general seats entitled it to 11 reserved seats, while the PML(N)’s seven seats got it nine reserved sears. However, the reserved seat members had not been able to take oath, because no session of the House was being summoned. The ECP postponed the poll until the notified members could take oath. How long can the House not meet? It must pass a budget for example in a couple of months, and when the House meets, the notified members will turn up to be given oath.

Even without the KP members, the ruling coalition has a majority in the Senate, and thus can legislate. It can also elect its candidate Chairman, provided the election takes place. However, the accession of strength from KP would have enabled the ruling coalition to think about a two-thirds majority.. Though the Senate can elect a Chairman and Deputy Chairman even as it is, the fact that one province is missing half its delegation makes a mockery of a House that is supposed to represent the provinces, as symbolized by the qual representation given to each province, as well as their being elected by the provincial assemblies.

One of the unfortunate features of this election was the way caretakers figured. The caretaker PM was elected from Balochistan, and the caretaker Punjab CM from Punjab. This is in addition to the initial caretaker Interior Minister becoming Balochistan CM. The Senate may be becoming the backdoor through which caretakers sneak back into politics. This should be acknowledged as a problem, and tackled.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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