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Voters [Urdu Translation]

Voters [Urdu Translation]

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Voters
Dr Farrukh Saleem


Every equation has two expressions. Our democratic equation also has two sides: the demand side and the supply side. What do Pakistani voters demand and what do Pakistani politicians give them? Under Article 51 of our constitution, “There shall be three hundred and forty-two seats for members in the National Assembly...” Of the 342, 272 are directly contested. Of the 272, nearly 200 are predominantly rural. The question therefore boils down to: what do rural voters demand?
The Election Commission has 84.4 million registered voters. If the election data from 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 is any guide then 26 million rural voters and a mere 8 million urban voters will actually come out – or will be brought out – to vote. The question further boils down to: what do 26 million rural voters demand?
Now the ground reality. The state does not exist a mere ten miles out of any major metropolitan area. In essence, the 26 million rural voters live out there in the jungle. What do these 26 million rural voters living out there in the jungle demand? Answer: An MNA who can provide them what the state has failed to provide – some semblance of physical and economic security.
The 26 million demand neither morality nor honesty. Their demand has nothing to do with ‘quality of life’ issues, drone attacks, corruption or governance. This is exactly where the demand side of the voters meets the supply side of the leaders. The 26 million will get the leaders they demand. Winning an election, therefore, is about three things: establishing ‘patron-client relationships’, the use of human networks and the redistribution of state patronage.
Now the real question. Who will win the next election? Answer: The ‘machine politician’ – a candidate who can put together a machine (read: human network) that provides voters what they demand. A candidate who can provide these 26 million living out in the jungle what the state has failed to – the hope of physical and economic security. ‘Machine politics’ is all about getting elected, capturing state resources and then the redistribution of patronage to complete the ‘patron-client asymmetric relationship cycle’ between the voter and the elected.
This is how D Morgan writing for Fair Observer described Pakistan’s machine politics: “National and regional power brokers, usually in the form of the large political parties, award favours – cash, jobs and influence – to their supporters in return for votes. This means that most of the money that should be going into education, renewing decrepit infrastructure......and investing in electricity generation is actually wasted through patronage.
“While this allows the large parties to create the illusion of popular support in the short-term, it beggars the country over the longer term. Supporters and functionaries of the PPP or the PML-N, the two largest parties, are able to amass personal fortunes.....for themselves and their relatives, while the country, as a whole, goes to hell in a handcart.”
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We have been through nine elections over the past 42 years – and are now expecting different results from the tenth election.
---
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Voters
Dr Farrukh Saleem


Every equation has two expressions. Our democratic equation also has two sides: the demand side and the supply side. What do Pakistani voters demand and what do Pakistani politicians give them? Under Article 51 of our constitution, “There shall be three hundred and forty-two seats for members in the National Assembly...” Of the 342, 272 are directly contested. Of the 272, nearly 200 are predominantly rural. The question therefore boils down to: what do rural voters demand?
The Election Commission has 84.4 million registered voters. If the election data from 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 is any guide then 26 million rural voters and a mere 8 million urban voters will actually come out – or will be brought out – to vote. The question further boils down to: what do 26 million rural voters demand?
Now the ground reality. The state does not exist a mere ten miles out of any major metropolitan area. In essence, the 26 million rural voters live out there in the jungle. What do these 26 million rural voters living out there in the jungle demand? Answer: An MNA who can provide them what the state has failed to provide – some semblance of physical and economic security.
The 26 million demand neither morality nor honesty. Their demand has nothing to do with ‘quality of life’ issues, drone attacks, corruption or governance. This is exactly where the demand side of the voters meets the supply side of the leaders. The 26 million will get the leaders they demand. Winning an election, therefore, is about three things: establishing ‘patron-client relationships’, the use of human networks and the redistribution of state patronage.
Now the real question. Who will win the next election? Answer: The ‘machine politician’ – a candidate who can put together a machine (read: human network) that provides voters what they demand. A candidate who can provide these 26 million living out in the jungle what the state has failed to – the hope of physical and economic security. ‘Machine politics’ is all about getting elected, capturing state resources and then the redistribution of patronage to complete the ‘patron-client asymmetric relationship cycle’ between the voter and the elected.
This is how D Morgan writing for Fair Observer described Pakistan’s machine politics: “National and regional power brokers, usually in the form of the large political parties, award favours – cash, jobs and influence – to their supporters in return for votes. This means that most of the money that should be going into education, renewing decrepit infrastructure......and investing in electricity generation is actually wasted through patronage.
“While this allows the large parties to create the illusion of popular support in the short-term, it beggars the country over the longer term. Supporters and functionaries of the PPP or the PML-N, the two largest parties, are able to amass personal fortunes.....for themselves and their relatives, while the country, as a whole, goes to hell in a handcart.”
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We have been through nine elections over the past 42 years – and are now expecting different results from the tenth election.
---
Sunday, December 09, 2012

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Published by: Shabbir Hussain Imam on Dec 09, 2012
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