Political Parties are an essential component of any democratic system and the foundation of a strong parliament. A very limited work has been done for the development of political parties in Pakistan. To optimise another successful democratic transition in 2018, political parties must be supported and strengthened. Tabeer-Consolidating Democracy in Pakistan (CDIP) is working to support the democratic processes in Pakistan by strengthening the capacity of the country’s institutions to be more effective, accountable and responsive to the needs of Pakistani people. The programme will achieve this by focusing on four interrelated areas: Elections, Parliament, Political Parties and Democratic Space.
To evaluate the current context for the provision of support, the Tabeer team conducted an assessment of the needs of political parties in Pakistan and carried out analysis of recent political party programmes in order to learn lessons and to focus on the gaps left. The assessment was aimed at examining the current state of major political parties – identifying areas in which the parties have begun to adopt reform measures and areas where further efforts are needed. During this exercise, Tabeer project team realised the need for improving the understanding of Political Party Officials on the Election Laws especially after the parliament passed a new Election Acts, 2017.
The team reached out to 13 selected political parties and briefed them on Tabeer’s objectives. Responding to the need identified by political parties, Tabeer has planned to develop a series of Background Papers on various aspects of the Elections Act, 2017 and organise roundtables and briefing-cum-training sessions for political parties officials in a multi-party setting. This Background Paper is the first in the series of such Briefing Papers and presents an overview of the Election Acts, 2017 for use by party leaders, candidates, polling agents and party workers. Using this paper, party officials will be briefed at a structured Roundtable Session before the General Election due by August 2018. Key source of this paper is ‘The Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms on The Elections Bill, 2017’ and ‘The Elections Act, 2017’.
This overview is not meant to be an exhaustive document of all changes or reforms brought about through the Election Act, 2017 but only the key changes/reforms. Readers are encouraged to point out if there are other key changes in the law that should be included in this paper.