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Voter disillusionment

December 07, 2017

ELECTIONS are not only about choosing which political party is best for the country but also which party can endorse a national vision for change for the next five years. Yet, Pakistanis are cautious when it comes to promises of change because elected officials often fail to find solutions to pressing issues. Today, as we mark National Voters’ Day, political parties should remember that they will have to rebuild voters’ trust before the 2018 election. On its part, the ECP aims to increase registration of women voters to bridge the electoral gender gap. Because identifying and registering 12.17m women is an enormous challenge, the ECP must muster support from local governments and political parties. This requires eliminating institutional and traditional barriers that hinder electoral equity.

Another voter base of significance is young people, comprising 44pc of registered voters between 18 and 35 years. Therefore, it makes sense that parties delve into what younger voters see as key issues. With many young people unemployed, ignoring their concerns is detrimental. Festering disillusionment causes young people to lean towards right-wing groups, away from parties espousing democratic values. This does not bode well for the latter category of parties; a shift to the right in middle- to low-income communities could take place if mainstream parties do not draw the youth to the ballot box. In fact, the kind of politicking going on between the PTI and PML-N, both hurling allegations of corruption and bad governance at each other, would only have left more young people suspicious of politicians. Recall it was the PTI that actively sought to bring young voters to the fore but the attention given to their issues was short-lived once the political campaigning ended. Where young citizens and women vote, ideally the end result is the dissemination of democratic ideas, accessible politics and better laws. Ignoring them comes at the cost of risking the survival of democratic politics.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017