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July 11, 2018

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A fresh survey predicts hung parliament

ISLAMABAD: A new survey on upcoming elections shows PML-N and PTI in neck and neck fight but no clear winner thus portraying a scenario of a hung parliament whereas majority of the population believes Pakistan is heading towards wrong direction.

However, the number of respondents expressed intention to vote this time has increased from 76% in 2013 to 82% in 2018. If the elections are held today, 32% population has shown intention to vote for PML-N, 29% for PTI and 13% to PPP, according to a countrywide survey conducted by Institute of Public Opinion Research (IPOR) in collaboration with an American firm, Global Strategic Partners. The survey was carried out between June 13-July 04 of 3735 respondents from all across Pakistan. Around 72% responded.

There is a consensus among pollsters in Pakistan that 35% vote is a minimum threshold to determine which party takes a lead in countrywide elections and right now there is none. However, PTI has gained popularity from 27% in November 2017 to 29% in July 2018 whereas PML-N has lost from 37% to 32% in the corresponding period and PPP’s position has remained the same (13%).

Interestingly, Shahbaz Sharif has scored the highest approval among six political figures surveyed. Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto follow him in terms of popularity ranking. Development work and performance are key reasons of Shahbaz popularity whereas Imran has endeared public through his slogan of change and honesty.

Three major issues people tended to hear, watch or read the most about PML-N were as a corrupt party, its development work and Panama scandal respectively whereas PTI’s fight against corruption, Imran Khan’s marriage with Bushra and Reham Khan’s upcoming book were the issues attracted the most of public attention.

Nawaz Sharif’s slogan “vote ko izzat do” and his attribution to “khalai makhlooq” as a reason of his removal received a split verdict in the survey. Three most important issues people face are unemployment, loadshedding and corruption, though respondents largely expressed their satisfaction over the performance of federal and provincial governments of Punjab and KP.

As for as public perception of the country’s future is concerned, only 35% thought it is on the right direction in comparison with 64% who gave opinion in the negative. Most of the pessimists regarding future were found in Sindh (75%) which followed Punjab (61%), KP (59%) and Balochistan (58%).

If compared with their thinking reflected in a survey of November last year, pessimism has increased one percent in July this year and mostly rooted in their top three concerns: corruption (20%), high inflation (18%) and unemployment (10%). These concerns are in contrast with their satisfaction about the performance of PML-N’s government at federal level (57%) as well as in Punjab (76%) and PTI’s in KP (64%).

Shahbaz Sharif is ahead of Imran Khan when their approval rate was separately judged as a person and as a future prime minister. When the respondents were given a choice of six political figures to see how much are they liked, Shahbaz Sharif scored 62%, Imran Khan 53%, Nawaz Sharif 47%, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi 41%, Maryam Nawaz 40% and Bilawal Bhutto 38%.

After a couple of other questions, the respondents were separately asked about Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan as future prime minister: 56% voted for Shahbaz and 37% against him. Likewise, 46% were for Imran Khan 44% against him. As they were bracketed together in yet another question asking them who would be comparatively better prime minister, 47% favoured Shahbaz and 44% Imran.

Top three reasons that made Shahbaz popular are his development work (21%), that he is good for country (19%) and good performance (18%). Top three reasons described by those who dislike him are corruption (53%), false promises (9%) and that focus of his development is only on Punjab (8%).

Regarding Imran, top three reasons why people want to see him prime minister is his slogan of change (21%), honesty (19%) and development work (19%). Top three reasons of respondents’ dislike for him as prime minister is that he lacks experience (22%), that he is bad for country (15%) and that he always takes U-turn (11%).

Asked whether they agree if Nawaz Sharif’s allegation that “khalai makhlooq” was behind his removal, 39% agreed and 53% didn’t. If a province-wise breakup analysed of those who agreed with Nawaz Sharif’s narrative, majority is in Balochistan (55%) that follows Punjab (48%), Sindh 26% and KP (21%). Regarding his “vote ko izzat do” slogan, 49% approved his demand and 47% didn’t. Again, majority of the takers of this slogan are in Balochistan (61%), Punjab (60%), Sindh (36%) and KP (26%).

When respondents were asked about positive/negative publicity of PML-N and PTI, 32% heard, read and watched positively about PML-N and 47% about PTI. What they came to know most about PML-N was as corrupt party (30%), development work (10%) and Panama scandal (10%). Regarding PTI, it was about the party’s fight against corruption (15%), Imran’s marriage with Bushra (12%) and about Reham Khan’s upcoming book (10%).

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