When I was ten years old I used to think I was much wiser than age fellows. I used think I understand almost everything. When I became a little older, around the time…I was say eighteen; I realized how foolish I was when I was ten years old. I still laugh at some of the stuff that I used to do, say, or believe. Then I went to university, and I learned stuff, which completely changed my thinking about the world. I understood things around me a lot better. After doing my Bachelors, I came to Germany for further education, and I realized that what used to think about the world and life back in Pakistan was almost completely wrong. The world was a much different place than I imagined… And I am still alive, and I do not yet any fatal disease. So, If with the grace of Allah, I do not have any accident, I’ll probably live long enough to come to a conclusion that whatever, I know, think, or believe
right now is quite foolish, if not completely incorrect.
The point I am trying to make is that just like me, as we humans grow old and get learn and/or experience new things why start understanding things around us a lot better. Despite the fact, my father has not experience the world the way I have experienced it, or the way my elder brother has experienced it, but I am extremely sure that he has experienced a lot of stuff of which I have completely no Idea, and whatever, I experienced he has probably had a somewhat similar experience. Thus, despite being 27 years old, if both I and my father are given a set of random decisions to make, my father, or for that matter any person 5-10 years
older than, will score a lot better than me.
I read somewhere, that it is claimed that the greatest achievement of humanity is the creation of democracy. It is the most successful political system of the world. Even countries which have absolutely no democracy try to borrow some of the concepts from democracy to make the people in power their look better. One of the core ideas of democracy is the equality of people. This implies that every Tom, Dick, and Harry get the chance to vote and each of their votes has the same weight-age. Even if Tome has a PhD in Economics, Dick is a School teacher with Masters in English, and Harry is an Auto-Mechanic with some diploma, because he hated school. Nor do we consider their life experience, or if one of them has been using drugs and is he voting so that a new law on environment protection is passed or the streets near his house gets paved.
I am not a student of politics, neither have I read some very heavy books about the philosophy behind democracy. But in this article I want to propose a change to this basic concept in democracy. The main target of this proposed changed is Pakistan, which is based on the parliamentary system, but it could also work for the presidential democracy. It is said that „the worst democracy is much better than a very good dictatorship“. I strongly believe in that, but as far as I know from the news, almost all the countries in the world have very good relations with Saudi Arabia, which most certainly is not a democracy. America the “spokes-country” for the democracy is a childhood friend of Saudi Arabia; India, the world’s biggest democracy has absolutely no problem with it and Pakistan’s political leaders consider the Saudi King their „Khalifa-e-Rashid“. Pakistan on the other hand—which has been played
like ping-pong between democracy and dictatorship by the people who could reach to top, but currently under a somewhat reasonably democratic government—is not considered to be a nice country by a lot of people. Some even can’t bear hearing its name!
So, what I am proposing here is that instead of giving each person exactly one vote there should be consideration for various aspects, and some should a bigger say than others, in deciding the fate of the nation. I am not saying that right vote should be limited to people with degrees, but an 18 year old, illiterate small town boy’s vote should have lesser value than his 56 year old father who has been to various big cities and though he is illiterate himself, he understand the world much better. The voter lists could include not just the name, address and National ID number but also some other characteristics about the voter. For instance, we can start from one vote for each person, but a person with primary education gets another vote, a guy with matriculation degree gets one more and so on till PhD. Then there could be one vote for every 5 or ten years of life experience. A twenty one years old guy could get to vote twice but a 60 year old man gets six votes. Similarly people with education in subjects like economics, law, politics, defense, and journalism get to more votes than a Kinder Garden teacher with majors in child psychology. In deciding about special seats like for special seats for women, farmers, or labor force, the women, farmers and labor force could be given more votes but other people from that area could also vote.
This system not only ensures that people who have seen more of the world and who understand the issues of national importance far better than some others get to have higher say in deciding about the leadership, but it also allows a person to divide his votes between more than one candidates. The elections for the senate could benefit from this. For instance, if one candidate did not win the election but had still managed to get a lot more votes than the losing candidates from a different electorate, he could be the forerunner for the seat in the senate. Thus the selection for the senate should not be the sole prerogative of the political parties but they should take the public opinion into consideration, thus the senators should also have to compete in the general elections and those who get very little votes should stand very little chances of making it through the senate.
This would also result in the politicians giving more importance to those who really matter. They would like to do more for education for instance. As they will be their greatest vote bank, rather than the poor rural voters for whom they don’t have to do much right now.
I would also like to propose a few other relatively unrelated changes. Firstly, I believe some sixteen year old children have a lot more sense than a lot of 21 year old’s. So the minimum voting age should be reduced down to 10 years. Their vote will not matter much since they will be under great influence of their parents, but it will increase the children’s interest in taking part in their nation’s decision making right from the beginning. Plus, they will want to get more votes and thus will want relatively more to get educated.
Another thing relates to the getting as many people to vote as possible. Historically, the voting percentage in Pakistan has stayed around 30-40 percent. That means over 50 percent people do not even make use of their right to vote. The election commission spends a handsome amount of money in organizing elections. The political parties spend a lot of money on election campaigns that they latter try to earn back when they get the power which goes out the pocket of the public. Also the parties spend quite some money on the day of elections to get the voters to the voting boosts like arranging for transportation etc. Also, some politicians offer food for the voters, at least that is what I have heard, some voters just vote for one plate of Biryani. I suggest that the government should make a little more expenditure, and give a certain amount of money to everyone who uses his right to vote. Now why am I suggesting this? The fact is, I have never voted in my entire life yet, the reason being probably my and all of my family’s vote’s are enlisted in our home town Faisalabad. But we never lived their due to my father being in Army. So, we just did not vote for the reason that we will have to spend money on going to Faisalabad just to cast our vote. If instead we would have gotten some money we would have been much more likely to vote. So in order to get the people to vote, the parties and government will not have spend huge amounts in promotional campaigns, but simply compensate people a little for their effort.
In the end, I’d like to suggest an answer to one particular criticism that I might get. Some might say, if “hypothetically” such a system is introduced in Pakistan, instead of “just” the politicians, the general public will also start to get fake degrees just to get more votes. Well! I guess the solution to that problem is to ensure that such opportunities are eliminated before the introduction of the system. This, by the way, can and should be done by even if no one gives a damn about the change I proposed.
Student, Otto-von-Guericke Universität, Magdeburg, Germany
Email: [email protected]