Number of Downlaods: 15
Published Date: Apr 12, 2016
A Vote Exchange Perspective from Democratic Decentralization in Pakistan (W – 154)
Sajid Amin Javed & Asad Ur Rehman
Local Government system is seen as harbinger of democracy in developing world and so is the case in Pakistan. Studying the factors that shape the voting behaviour in local government elections, we argue that benefits attached with democratic decentralization are conditional on the criteria around which votes are polled. Analyses based on mixed methods provide evidence raising serious concerns on democratic decentralization in Pakistan. Firstly, a scrutiny of local bodies and cantonment election results entails the evidence for personalized politics and confirms existence of clientelistic associations across the country. Party position serves as patronage to ensure win of already chosen winning horses. Secondly, examination of household data, collected through a field survey, exhibits that people vote through an informal intermediary institution of vote-block built around kinship or neighborhood to extract economic and social security predominantly. Entry into any vote-block is based on rivalry, prestige, security, and personal benefit. Notably, voters vote to candidate having ‘influence’ in different realms of local life. We infer that structural imperatives derive political mobilization and election contestation at local levels. Presence of large social cleavage and income inequality coupled with economic insecurity reduced chances for nurturing horizontal and voluntary associations. It is proclaimed that raising awareness and educating the voter may not generate the required results as voters are making choices rationally and use vote as instrument serving the self-interest best. Making the growth inclusive, development equitable and ensuring economic security may help create an environment wherein collective gain takes lead over the personal immediate gains in making a voting decision.