How Election Process is Rent-Seeking in Pakistan? A Case Study of Local Bodies Election in District Pakpattan
Keywords:Election campaign, Political Process, Local Bodies’ Election , Rent-Seeking
This study examines the difference between the total spending on the election campaign in 54 Union councils during local bodies’ election and the expected developmental fund for the same area. The study is based on primary data collected from 324 contesting candidates for the chairmanship/vice-chairmanship of 54 union councils (UCs) in district Pakpattan during the local bodies’ election of 2015 in Punjab, Pakistan. Per local bodies council rules, a winning chairman of UC has to allocate developmental funds in the area. So, the whole process of local bodies’ election is for the finalization of a person among the people, who could be given the mandate to use the developmental funds. In this regard, we assume that the prevailing process of election is rent-seeking for society, in the sense that the total cost of the election process for society is greater than the developmental funds for which the same process is conducted. Candidates consume more than the allowed limit set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Hence, society bears the monetary cost of spending more than the set limit and non-monetary costs like rivalry, foes, conflicts, etc. The analysis of data shows that the total amount of campaign spending is 473.27 million rupees which are significantly more than the allowed limit, set by ECP as well as the total allocated developmental funds (128 million) of 54 union councils. The study shows that the whole process of local bodies’ election is putting rent of 345 million on society. Apart from monetary cost, this process brings those people to the power corridors who themselves break ECP rules. The study suggests comprehensive reforms in the process of the election campaign for saving society from its associated cost.
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