Saturday, October 8, 2022

EXPLAINER: Pakistan is going to elections, making rare history


Pakistan is one of the fewer countries of the world, where change of a government or transfer of power not always happens through vote.

So, it is a rare happening that the two political governments have completed their tenure in a row. And now a third government being elected through the election on July 25.

The country is going to hold general election on July 25 to elect members of the lower house, the National Assembly and four provinces – Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Of the total 272 general seats in the National Assembly, a party needs to bag 137 seats or more through elections to form a government.

Polling will take place in 272 constituencies across the country from 8am until 6pm on July 25.

In addition, there are 70 more seats reserved for women and minorities that will be divided among the parties in proportion to the seats won by each party. So in total, there are 342 seats of the lower house of the Parliament.

The voters will also elect the members of four provincial assemblies on the polling day.

The electoral landscape

Pakistan’s population totals above 200 million as the interim results of the latest Census said. Around 105 million of the total population are registered voters.

An estimated 40 million young Pakistanis will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections hailing from both urban and rural populace.

The issues that may shape the outcome are more clear-cut. With the declining economy, agricultural dilemmas and lack of vital facilities like clean water, electricity, quality education and healthcare remain beyond the reach of many Pakistanis it is hard to come to any valid conclusion making this election any one’s game at this point.

Foreign exchange reserves are falling, the fiscal deficit is rising, and IMF bailout help is again being considered. The governance has suffered the most.

At present, a caretaker government is in place. An independent election commission has been functioning to oversee the polls. EU and other foreign entities have sent observers to monitor the transparency of polls.

Social media influence

Social media has a great impact in elections as parties increasingly using this means to influence young voters. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook play a greater part in election campaigns these days.

But the digital revolution has some way to go. Fewer than one in 10 Pakistanis enjoy internet access, one of the lowest penetration rates in the world.

Can any party win an outright majority?

Every party’s power is more or less limited to its own regional base. Few of the parties can claim support right across the country.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) enjoys a decent vote bank in Punjab whereas Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is known to be a frontrunner in Sindh with its strong base.

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) on the other hand enjoys a decent following countrywide making them a strong contender for the upcoming electoral event.

How would a coalition work?

In case no party succeeds to win majority in the parliament and a hung parliament comes into existence, the party with the biggest number of seats gets the first crack at forming a coalition.

Pakistan has seen many incidents where a party’s ideology is quickly set aside over the possibility of power. The ideology takes back seat after the elections when a party try to gain magic number required for formation of government. A coalition partner when backs you, you have to concede their demands in exchange of the precious support.

A government alliance can be formed on a joint agenda representing cherished goals of the coalition partners.

Pakistan in its political history have witnessed negative tactics such as the horse trading and shady deals to solidify a government.

Pakistan right now is in a strong need for a government that makes more effort trying to fix Pakistan rather than draining it. Only a strong government, with a clear vision, can show real leadership and take tough decisions – on various national challenges including fighting terrorism, overhauling the tax system, providing better governance and reforming the economy.

That’s what the country truly needs.


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