The Senate Elections are not meant to have unexpected results, yet this year, proved to generate quite a lot of attention. The controversy with the Elections began with some contentious candidates, proved historic when the ECP declared PML-N’s candidates independent, and concluded with surprises for a few parties. Looking back on it overall, we celebrate a relatively fair and successful passing of a democratic process, and analyse the lessons that political parties can learn from these round of elections.

Most of the controversy circulating around the elections is allegations of horse-trading. PTI chief Imran Khan in a tweet on Saturday evening expressed his concern over the reports of horse-trading and stated that Pakistan People’s Party’s horse-trading led it to win more seats than it should have.

However, the procedure of the elections is such that some amount of horse-trading is inevitable. Under the single transferable vote system, voters cast a single ballot which mentions all the candidates they would like to see elected in order of their personal priority or preference. When a candidate receives enough votes to cross the quota, the extra value of his or her votes is transferred down to lower priority candidates. Thus, the structure is such that it is difficult to monitor the preferences, and so almost impossible to eliminate every bit of horse-trading.

While it is true that horse-trading goes against the democratic nature, and is distasteful, it also does force parties into efficiency and diligence, as seen by these elections. Parties should not be complacent about the seats they will win- MQM’s loss in the elections was a result of its own lack of unity, as some parliamentarians absence during the elections may have led to their party’s defeat. It also pushes parties to be careful with their picks foe candidacy- despite PML-N being the most likely to lose to horse-trading, the parties’ picks for senate were experienced old-school PML-N loyalists. It is a lesson that PTI could learn, to pick more credible candidates, as seen by the losing of PTI backed Sami-ul-Haq.

Some parties may be unhappy, but we should laud another successful continuing of a democratic process that went uninterrupted. In this country, where it is hard to find a procession of democracy, this peaceful handing down of power is a positive sign. It is a sign of our progressing democracy that the Senate now welcomes its first Hindu Dalit woman as a senator, a historical achievement indeed.