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Pakistan to hold senate elections

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Pakistan to hold senate elections

Photo: Reuters/ Akhtar Soomro

Pakistan will hold its senate elections today. Seventy-eight candidates will compete to fill 48 open seats.

Controversy has preceded today’s campaign as political parties have debated whether the election should be conducted using open ballots. The dispute commenced when the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party issued a presidential reference to the Supreme Court in February arguing that an open-ballot system would deter electoral corruption. The party argued that the current secret ballot format allows voters to be influenced by money. Pakistan’s Supreme Court concluded that the election must proceed using the closed-ballot system as per the Constitution.

It is unclear if the PTI will be able to work with opposition parties to amend the Constitution in the short-term. While opposition parties are not against an open-ballot system, they are hesitant to support the government’s proposal based on the PTI’s governance performance. The outcome of today’s election will direct the future of the closed-ballot system. Expect a renewed effort to amend the election system should the PTI expand its majority. However, if PTI struggles, the party may have to apply the latest technologies to address electoral corruption and the monetary influence of voters’ preferences, as the Supreme Court suggested.

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