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The importance of accountability as a fundamental principle of a democratic society

But it is equally important for citizens to be able to make an informed decision.

CEPR Policy Research

For that, the electorate must know that the candidates are credible and bound by a moral code of behaviour as enshrined in the Constitution. Democratic accountability means empowering citizens to reject corrupt and ineffective rulers and to be able to choose better representatives. In suspending the decision of the Lahore High Court that had restored the mandatory information and declarations of assets required from the candidates, the apex court appears to have bypassed a fundamental principle of democratic accountability.

It is imperative to ensure that the elections are held on time, but they must also be free, fair and transparent.

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It is vital that the electorate is provided with complete personal information about the candidates and their assets. While in previous elections, it was a mandatory requirement, the provision was not included in the new electoral law. It is inexcusable the way political parties came together to defend the controversial change in poll laws.

Denial of a fundamental right that enables the electorate to make an informed assessment of aspiring lawmakers raises questions about the transparency of the coming elections. But the chief justice has set aside the ruling on the grounds that restoration of old forms at this stage could delay the polls. Indeed, it is the prerogative of parliament to make laws; but it is the responsibility of the judiciary to protect the fundamental rights of citizens.

Democratic peace and term limits

Moreover, the additional requirement of information may not necessarily delay the polls as being feared by the court and some political leaders.

According to some legal experts, the nomination forms can be uploaded in no time and can easily be filled within the stipulated time for the filing of the nomination papers.

It is inexcusable the way all political parties came together to defend the controversial change in the electoral laws that would allow even people with criminal records to stand in the elections.

The plea that the Lahore High Court ruling came too close to the elections is also not relevant. It seemed a deliberate move by the PML-N government to drag on the case. It took six months for the government to submit its response to the court. The controversial amendment in the Election Act was passed by parliament last year.

Now the candidates are not obliged to provide information about their tax returns, dual nationality status, education and source of income. It makes them virtually above the law, further tarnishing the image of our civilian political leadership. With this amendment in place, no judicial action can be taken against those hiding their assets and details about their source of income.

  1. In some democracies, legislative committees provide lawmakers a forum for these public examinations of national issues. The Continuing Donor-Recipient Divide The four concepts also appear as a potential bridge across the donor-recipient divide in a second sense—they are not only widely embraced by aid organizations as programmatic principles and objectives, but have also been agreed on by both donor and recipient governments as a means to achieve greater aid effectiveness.
  2. They accept the fact that their party may not always be in power.
  3. Such "entitlements" may include social, economic, and cultural rights in the form of government guarantees of various social indicators.

The amendment has helped remove the sword of disqualification hanging over corrupt lawmakers and other political leaders. Not surprisingly, the bill had received support from political parties across the board. The way the bill was passed by parliament also raises questions about it legality. In fact, the ECP had initially questioned the authority of parliament to change the electoral rules.

  • And accountability programs or participatory development efforts sometimes fail to include marginalized groups and take their needs into account, though efforts in this respect have gradually improved;
  • Voters must be given due respect;
  • The take-home message, as pointed out by Daron Acemoglu , Davide Ticchi and Andrea Vindigni recently on Vox, is that policymakers should carefully consider the complexity of the political environment when trying to shape or guide the transition to democracy;
  • For example, an effort to push a government emerging out of civil war to pursue accountability for past rights violations may limit the inclusion of some groups in the post-conflict political system;
  • In addition, frustration with the meager impact of the first wave of technical assistance to improve government effectiveness pushed donors to broaden their thinking about how institutional change might be achieved.

But later, it changed its stance. The commission also became a party in the petition to the Supreme Court challenging the Lahore High Court decision. In fact, the ECP in a letter to the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms requested that it should be heard by the committee before any draft was prepared. However, the request was ignored. Through this amendment, political parties may have protected their leaders and lawmakers, but it will have serious implications for democracy in the country.

It has certainly damaged the image of parliament and elected representatives. Rule of law and accountability are two important pillars of a liberal democracy. A major weakness of the democratic process in Pakistan is that lawmakers are not bound by code of moral behaviour enforced by judicial authority. Nothing could be worse than the growing public perception that a major endeavour of parliament is to provide protection to the misdeeds of politicians.

These two pillars ensure good governance. They are also essential for the development of democratic institutions. While the country is close to achieving an important milestone in the second consecutive transition from one elected government to another, there is a greater need for making the election process more democratic and transparent.

The electoral law amendment has shrunk the space for growth of democratic values. It would make elected representative less accountable.

Political Accountability and Responsibility in the Government

Elections would become controversial if the amendment is not reversed. The restoration of the old nomination papers would certainly improve democracy in the country.

Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and Inclusion: A New Development Consensus?

The demand for greater transparency in the electoral process must not be misconstrued as a conspiracy to postpone the elections. We may be very close to the polls, but it is still not too late for the restoration of the old form. Voters must be given due respect. The writer is an author and journalist.