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Party democracy

COMMITTED to the tough job of prodding the system forward they may be, but these democracy-monitoring organisations can be very generous at times. Pildat has come up with a rating of political parties according to the extent of democracy in their ranks. At the top, as usual, is the reluctant democrat, the Jamaat-i-Islami. The PTI trails JI and the National Party at number three, which may be a bit of a letdown given the new emphasis on having a party that is more than a family enterprise. The more fancied and avowedly democratic entities such as the PML-N and the MQM languish at the bottom of the pack a tribute to the success of a centralised, uncomplicated infrastructure that allows the leaders at the top to control these parties without too much fuss.

The formula took into account a 12-point framework to measure the degree of democracy in eight selected parties which showed a general deterioration. The good old PPP is somewhere in the middle with a 36pc approval rate. This is a familiar figure for the PPP.

That`s the number around where its popularity hovered in its heyday.

Maybe it should be a cause of some satisfaction for the PPP that it has retained the figure at least in some estimates. Most parties should actually consider themselves lucky to have made the cut. Given that many of them don`t deem any election, other than provincial and national polls, as worth their while, they could have suffered an altogether more devastating snub had the monitor chosen a less charitable formulation of the question. It could have simply asked whether there was any democracy left in the party. Having been saved the pain of the obvious answer, Pakistanis might be only too relieved to ask about the tools that helped trace the flourishing germs of pluralism and diversity and democracy within these ostensibly family outfits. Only if all family members had an equal say would these parties appear to be more democratic.