Senate polls

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Secret balloting was introduced to enable the political representatives of electoral bodies to elect senators with their conscience, without being influenced by the politically charged environment, but in Pakistan this privilege has been misused since decades. Vote buying, Horse trading, and corrupt practices all are the defining norms of senate elections in Pakistan. Sitting government eager to win the majority in upper house, vows to bring electoral reforms that would lead to open balloting. PTI’s government bids to conduct open voting for senate elections on 3rd March and for this the government has used various ways to notch their goal.  Government, in this regard, tabled a constitutional amendment bill, seeking an open voting in senate election, but the bill was choked down by the opposition. Government then filed a reference, under article 186, to Supreme Court asking for interpretation on whether the senate elections shall be conducted under the constitution or under the election act of 2017. Both, senate and election act 2017 observes secret balloting.

Constitution, doesn’t provide a procedure for senate election, elections are to be guided by election act of 2017. Therefore, government seeks to amend election act of 2017 and for this government has passed a presidential ordinance, for open balloting during senate elections, by amending the election act of 2017. Ordinance itself is force that can be effected, but this ordinance is conditioned upon a provision that requires Supreme Court’s advisory opinion. In the current scenario, article 226 has kindled a debate which highlights that all the elections in Pakistan except for that of Prime Minister and Chief Minister would be practiced under secret balloting. And if Supreme Court interprets this article being applicable to the senate elections then the presidential ordinance holds no legal sanctity and is void. Procedural guidance for senate elections, in this regard is clearly prescribed through supreme laws provided by the constitution of Pakistan and to change constitution, government has to amend the constitution and constitutional amendment requires 2/3rd of majority, whether in national assembly or in senate. Both, government and opposition are striving hard to clear triumph in Senate elections and both the contestants want to contest elections according to their own comfort zones.

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