ISLAMABAD: Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN) has cautioned the government and political parties against hasty legislation for the Senate election reforms.
In a statement on Friday, FAFEN stated that the federal government and political parties must hold thorough consultations to reach a consensus decision on reforming the Senate election process instead of opting for hasty legislation without weighing its pros and cons.
FAFEN considers it unwise to rush through a constitutional amendment for allowing an open ballot with only a month remaining for fresh elections, the statement states.
If the federal government decides to pursue this course, in that case, it should carefully and critically analyze whether or not its existing proposal for amendment in the Constitution’s Articles 59 and 226 served the purpose of bringing transparency and curtailing horse-trading and use of money in Senate elections, it adds
The proposed constitutional amendment, pending with the National Assembly since October 2020, may not offer a strong deterrence to vote-buying for Senate elections as it does not define any penalty for national and provincial lawmakers voting against the party directions, the statement said.
The proposed amendment may be made more purposive by including penal provisions against such voting in the relevant anti-defection clauses.
To make the proposed amendments to the Constitution and the Elections Act, 2017 more purposeful, the government and political parties may consider the Senate Committee of the whole recommendations in its 2016 report on the “Mode of Elections of Members of Senate.”
FAFEN suggests the political parties take a more democratic approach. It proposes exploring a direct election method for the Senate, which epitomizes the federation of diverse regions and may refer to the spirit of the Constitutional scheme of the Senate, reflected in the constitution committee’s work.