The United Progressive Party is in crisis. An internal investigation team has confirmed that the party’s process of selecting proportional representation candidates for the April 11 parliamentary elections was riddled with irregularities.
The left-wing minor party won a total of 13 seats in the election, seven from local districts and six by proportional representation. Of the six proportional lawmakers-elect, three were selected through online and offline voting within the party, while the other three were invited from outside.
The investigation team, wrapping up its inquiry since April 17, declared Wednesday that the internal voting process was so badly rigged and poorly managed that its outcome could not be seen as legitimate.
It is shocking to hear that voting fraud was committed by a political party that claims to put morality before all else. The investigation team’s findings lead us to wonder whether the party is capable of practicing democracy.
The probe team blamed the fiasco on the party’s lack of ability to manage the selection process. The fractious party outsourced the management of the online voting process to a computer company, which acted improperly.
The firm was found to have changed the online voting program several times during the balloting period, an act that can be compared to opening the ballot box before voting is finished.
It was also found that ballots had been cast en masse through a single Internet Protocol address, a strong indication that voting was manipulated.
The offline voting process was just as messy, according to the investigation team. It said the voting rules were not strictly followed in many of the 200 polling stations set up across the nation.
Despite these findings, the UPP will not lose any of its six proportional representation seats since the alleged voting irregularities were committed during the party’s in-house selection process.
Yet the party should ask the prosecution to investigate the whole selection process and punish those who have committed voting fraud. It is the first step that the party should take to save its damaged reputation.
The leaders of the party’s factions are also required to stop bickering and make the crisis a teachable moment. They should confront the reality and cooperate to reform the party from the ground up. They need to start by asking themselves why their party should exist and what values they should stand for. Without painful soul-searching, they will never be able to restore the confidence of their supporters.