Political parties to be incentivized to back female candidates

Elections Commission's chairman Ahmed Shareef. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Elections Commission (EC) has made the decision to submit a revision to the Political Parties Act, designed to introduce a new incentive for political parties that back female candidates for elections.

In an appearance on SanguTV on Tuesday, EC’s chairman Ahmed Shareef said that Political Parties Act requires extensive revisions.

He said that EC has drafted all revisions it wishes to make, and will submit the bills to the Parliament once the third parliamentary session begins in September.

One of the revisions that EC wishes to have made is to secure legal authority for the commission to regulate political parties and monitor their activities.

“Due to the phrasing of some of the provisions of the law, political parties sometimes challenge at court, that the law does not provide the Elections Commission the legal authority to regulate political parties and hold parties accountable. That it [the law] does not explicitly state so. We do not have the legal authority whenever political parties deem so and whenever they wish to challenge us on that. But at the same time, they also argue we have legal authority whenever parties require our assistance,” he said.

 A second revision EC wishes to have made is with regard to the distribution of funds to political parties.

Shareef said that the law currently has a loophole which allows political parties to submit false membership forms if it so wishes.

He said that unauthentic membership forms are one issue which EC receives the most complaints regarding.

“I want to take this opportunity to say that we will, In Sha Allah, provide a solution to your complaint in the near future,” he said.

Shareef said that political party membership numbers portrays the level of support they enjoy from the public, and that frequent cases fraud in membership arises because the distribution of public funds among political parties depends on membership numbers.

He said that EC therefore wants to include specific requirements which will be considered when distributing funds.

Shareef said that 15 percent of funds for political parties will be distributed equally among all registered political parties.

“That this, all political parties which have minimum 3,000 members will be disbursed money s administrative support,” he said.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of the funds will be allocated based on membership numbers, and another 30 percent based on votes during elections.

Furthermore, 5 percent of funds will be allocated for political parties that back female candidates for elections.

“What this means is, we have arranged an additional incentive for parties that produce female candidates. This is part of the policies employed by the current administration, the state, and globally, to empower women in politics,” said Shareef.