When ever we have elections in our country there is always a hue and cry especially by the losing party. There have been instances when a party securing more votes as compared to another party has less number of seats in the assembly. According to the ECP website the PML (N), PTI and the PPP polled 14,874,104: 7,679,954 and 6,911,218 votes, respectively in the last elections.

These figures indicate that despite the PTI getting more votes has fewer seats in the parliament as compared to PPP. In another analysis the PTI got 17 percent of the popular votes but could get only 10 percent of the general seats. This can happen only in the First-past-the-post (FPTP) system followed in our country. The fact is that our winner-take-all election system, adopted from 18th century England, has the potential to leave up to 49.9% of the voters in any district feeling unrepresented whatever their race or ethnicity. A much fairer system is proportional representation. In this system each political party is represented in parliament in proportion to the number of people who voted for it.

The system of proportional representation ensures that virtually every constituency in the country will have a hearing in the national and provincial legislatures. The case for [PR] is fundamentally the same as that for representative democracy.

Voting turnout is significantly higher in democracies which practice PR, for the very simple reason that citizens have a greater motivation to be involved in the decision making process. PR is the ideal system for all legislative houses, not only from the practical considerations of being able to eradicate the problems of gerrymandering, as well as minimizing the practice known as pork barreling, but also from abiding to the basic tenet of liberal democracy: majorities may rule, but all of the people should be represented.

With the next elections still more than two years away we need to adopt a system of elections which is least controversial, brings out the most dedicated people in the assemblies and above all, which is most suited in achieving our national goals and aspirations. It is strongly recommended that the next elections be held on the basis of proportional representation. We should have a referendum on this issue.

CDRE (R) SAJJAD ALI SHAH BOKHARI,

Islamabad, December 10.