Elections the world over are now a game of money, and the same is the case in Pakistan. According to a recent report in these pages, the PML-N and PTI have both set PKR 200,000 as the ‘fee’ anyone hoping for a National Assembly ticket must deposit before they are even considered as a candidate.
While parties argue that this ‘barrier to entry’ helps weed out ‘non-serious candidates’, the question does arise as to why a politician’s ‘seriousness’ about wanting to represent their constituency is to be measured against their capacity to risk forfeiting a not insubstantial amount of money.
An editorial in Dawn stated “Money, after all, is what makes the world go round, and there is no reason for democracy to be exempt from that rule. To succeed in politics, all parties will need to sink considerable sums into the election economy, and they need a source of funding to be able to do so. Ticket fees are a major source of revenue, especially in a political culture where individual donations are not as common.”
However, Dawn called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan “to ensure that money doesn’t exert an oversized influence on elections is ensure that campaign finance rules are strictly followed. It is up to the ECP to ensure that its political finance wing is sufficiently equipped to enforce the rules impartially and equitably for all contestants.”