By Khalid Khattak and Numan Wahab
LAHORE: A comparative analysis of polled votes for Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in NA-120 bye-elections with 2013 general elections shows 11 percent decrease in PML-N’s votes and 3 percent increase in PTI’s votes in this constituency.
The analysis also reveals some other interesting trends including almost 10 percent increase in vote bank of religious parties and low female voter turnout.
While comparing the winning PML-N’s candidate Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, wife of the former premier Nawaz Sharif, with the runner up of PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid in terms of votes bagged vis-à-vis total votes cast PML-N achieved 48.6 percent of the votes while PTI could bag 37.1 percent votes.
In the 2013 general elections PML-N had bagged 59.7 percent of the votes cast while PTI had achieved 34.1 percent of the votes which means bagged 11 percent less votes than 2013 unlike PTI which achieved 3 percent more votes. This decrease in the PML-N votes could be attributed to split of vote because of candidates backed by religious parties.
Overall only 39.4 percent of the total voters exercised their right to vote in the bye-elections which otherwise had great significance in political history of the country as the seat had fallen vacant after the disqualification of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as prime Minister on the Supreme Court orders in Panama case.
The initial statistics issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reveal that female voter turnout was just 32.3 percent as against 142,144 female voters only 45,916 exercised their right to vote. The male voter turnout was 10 percent more than the female voters but still it could not touch 50 percent of the total male voters in the constituency.
As many as 80,944 male voters out of total 179,642 male voters exercised their right to vote. Out of total 321,786 registered voters in this constituency 126,860 were cast. And of these 1,731 votes were declared invalid.
Pakistan has one of the poor voter turnouts especially in South Asia. According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Pakistan’s voter turnout in the region is better only than Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The bye-polls analysis reveals Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) seems to have ‘intact’ its vote in the constituency as the party could bag around one percent of the votes this time unlike 1.7 percent in 2013.
As far as religious parties are concerned a significant surge is visible in their vote bank except for Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) which bagged less 1,000 votes in the two elections.
In 2013 general elections the contesting religious parties had bagged 1.8 percent votes while in the bye-polls these parties succeeded to achieve 10.6 percent votes.
This surge is primarily because of two candidates—one associated with the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) and the other one backed by Jamatud Dawa (JuD). The TLP remained on the third position in the list by bagging 7,130 votes while JuD backed candidate achieved 5,822 votes.