FAFEN Pre-Election Update 40: 24% Rallies Break Speech Rules; 78% Violate Other Regulations

ISLAMABAD, May 8, 2013: Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) observers in 143 National Assembly (NA) constituencies reported 1,495 rallies of 23 political parties and independent candidates. FAFEN’s Constituency Long-Term Observers (CLTOs) saw an average of 9-14 rallies in each constituency of Punjab and Sindh, but only three rallies on average in constituencies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), says Pre-Election Update 40 released on Wednesday.

The highest number of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) code violations were recorded at Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rallies (408 violations in 376 rallies), followed by Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) with 341 violations in 353 rallies. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) violated the ECP code 223 times in 218 rallies.

Speakers at one-quarter of rallies (366, or 24.5%) violated various Code provisions designed to restrict inflammatory, insulting or misleading speech. Most rallies violated one or more provisions of the ECP Code.

FAFEN has deployed CLTOs in every National Assembly (NA) constituency across the country to observe all electoral processes, including election campaigning. This pre-election update is based on CLTO reports about political rallies held between April 16 and May 5, 2013.

Speakers in 281 rallies (18.8%) made promises of specific local development schemes in their respective constituencies, while speakers in 77 rallies (5.2%) made personal attacks on their opponents. Speakers in five rallies asked their supporters not to vote for their opponents based on their caste. Another two speakers asked voters not to vote for their opponents based on their ethnicities, and one speaker used religion in campaigning.

ECP press releases on March 22 and April 6 indicate that it “has appointed more than 400 monitoring teams across the country to monitor political activities in General Election 2013.”  Based on its observations, FAFEN recommends that the ECP monitoring teams should respond to violations identified by FAFEN pre-election observers in each National Assembly constituency as well as reliable information gathered by other partisan and non-partisan sources.

The ECP should communicate all actions taken against violators of the Code of Conduct to the media and the public.

According to the update, a total of 1,166 rallies (78%) were held at places not publicly notified by the district administration, and at least 236 rallies caused inconvenience to the public.  As many as 92 (6%) rallies were held outside the residences of opponents, and FAFEN observers witnessed fireworks at 40 rallies.

Of the 1,495 observed rallies, 1,121 (75%) were in 80 Punjab constituencies, for an average of 14 per constituency.  Another 263 rallies (17.5%) were in 28 constituencies of Sindh, or 9.4 per constituency. Observers reported 43 rallies (2.9%) in 12 constituencies of Balochistan, or about 3.6 per constituency, and 45 rallies (3%) in 15 constituencies of KP, for an average of 3 per constituency.  Another 23 rallies (1.5%) were held in eight constituencies of FATA, or on average 2.9 per constituency.

Speakers at one-quarter of rallies (366, or 24.5%) violated various Code provisions designed to restrict inflammatory, insulting or misleading speech.

According to FAFEN observers, 1,166 campaign rallies were unauthorized, i.e. they were held at locations not notified to the public by the district administration. Two hundred and thirty-six (236) rallies disrupted traffic or caused inconvenience to the public, while 92 rallies were held outside the residences of opponents/candidates/political leaders.  FAFEN observers reported fireworks at 40 rallies.

Independent candidates committed 187 violations in 173 rallies, followed by Pakistan Muslim League (PML) with 78 violations in 67 rallies, and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with 62 violations in 58 rallies. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had 33 violations in 37 rallies, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) 24 violations in 27 rallies, National Peoples Party (NPP) 22 violations in 33 rallies, and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) 13 violations in 17 rallies.

Observers also noted Pakistan Peoples Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB) with eight violations in nine rallies, Sunni Tehreek (ST) eight violations in as many rallies, Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) seven violations in four rallies, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) six violations in five rallies, and Awami National Party (ANP) six violations in as many rallies.

Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had three violations in five rallies, National Party (NP) committed three violations in three rallies, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) three violations in two rallies, and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees (MJAH) three violations in two rallies.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Tehreek-e-Jafaria had two violations each in as many rallies.  Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami (JUI-S) had one violation each in two rallies, while Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) had one violation in one rally. FAFEN observers could not identify the political affiliation of people conducting another 83 rallies in which 89 violations were committed.

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