LAHORE: The turnout of 39.4 percent is considered good for a by-election. A detailed analysis of polled votes in NA-120 by-polls reveals some interesting trends including almost 10 percent increase in vote bank of religious parties and low female voters’ turnout.
Similarly, a comparison of the PML-N and the PTI with 2013 general elections in NA-120 shows 11 percent decrease in the PML-N’s votes that is apparently affected by the increase in vote bank of religious parties and 3 percent increase in the PTI’s votes.
Overall, only 39.4 percent of the total voters exercised their right of franchise in the by-elections which otherwise had great significance in political history of the country as the seat had fallen vacant after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister by the Supreme Court in the Panama case verdict.
The initial statistics issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan reveal that female voters’ turnout was just 32.3 percent as against 142,144 female voters only 45,916 exercised their right to vote. The male voters’ 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. While comparing the winning PML-N with runner-up PTI in terms of votes bagged vis-à-vis total votes cast; the PML-N achieved 48.6 percent of the votes while the PTI could bag 37.1 percent votes.
In the 2013 general elections, the PML-N had bagged 59.7 percent of the votes cast while the PTI had secured 34.1 percent of the votes which means it bagged 11 percent less votes than 2013 unlike the 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.
The PPP seems to have kept ‘intact’ its votes 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-i-Islami 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 by-polls these parties succeeded to achieve 10.6 percent votes.
This surge is primarily because of two candidates — one of 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.
Monitoring Desk adds: Senior journalist and analyst Suhail Warraich told Shahzeb Khanzada in Geo News programme ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Ke Saath’ that turnout mostly remains low in bye-elections. He said 39 per cent turnout is a good ratio, being NA-120 a by-poll. He said generally it was a good bye-election in which both N-League and Dr Yasmin Rashid put in a good effort. Votes were cast in reaction of disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in NA-120by-polls, and the SC verdict also disappointed some voters.
He said that in the changed situation, the PTI gained three per cent more votes compared with 1993 general election. Ten per cent of the total vote cast went to newcomer religious groups candidates. And if these 10pc votes are added to Kulsoom Nawaz total votes secured, it makes the ratio which was secured by Nawaz Sharif in 2013, said the analyst.
Suhail Warraich said he was seeing the beginning of more difficulties for the PML-N after its success in NA-120 by-polls. Now its opponents would make a new strategy to damage it in the general elections.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Shahzeb Khanzada in reply to a question that there was long tale behind it that how Milli Muslim League and other religious groups decided to contest the NA-120 bye-election. Candidates of these groups got 14,200 votes, and 14,000 of them were PML-N’s votes. He said these groups didn’t believe in voting and elections. But this time, about 35 candidates were made to contest the by-polls only to slash PML-N vote ratio. He said their political parties were not registered. He said that not the PML-N but Sirajul Haq and Imran Khan said it that whoever would cast vote for their candidates would stand with the judiciary. He said now Imran Khan must gather courage and admit that Lahore voters have rejected the SC verdict against Nawaz Sharif.
To another question, he said had the PML-N not been in the government, they would have taken to the streets on the first day when its party activists were taken away, and they would have got them back until now.
Another senior journalist and analyst Iftikhar Ahmad told Shahzeb Khanzada that Maryam Nawaz had proven herself a good planner. Her approach towards NA-120 voters was scientific and she reached out to all schools of thought in the constituency. He said Maryam had also run his father’s campaign in this constituency in 2013 general elections. He said it was a bad move on the part of Maryam to link the result of NA-120 by-polls with the SC verdict. He said if Nawaz Sharif would not be allowed to continue politics, Maryam Nawaz would be leading the PML-N in future.
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