Tuesday September 21, 2021

AJK election results: More popular votes need not necessarily produce more seats

July 27, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Close to two million votes were polled in Sunday’s general elections to the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJKLA) with a meagre proportion cast in the 12 seats for Kashmiri refugees settled in Pakistan.

Calculations done by The News reveal that some 1,994,712 ballots out of a total of 3,220,793 registered votes were polled for the 33 seats of AJK territory and 12 seats for refugees. Of them, as many as 1,746,553 ballots were cast in the AJK region while just 248,159 votes were polled in Pakistan.

The winning political parties – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and All J&K Muslim Conference (AJ&KMC), excepting the Kashmir People’s Party (KPP) – secured a total of 1,702,922 votes apart from the ballots of the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which failed to get even a single seat anywhere.

The remaining polled votes, 291,790, were shared by the independent candidates and ticket holders of tiny political parties which could not win any seat.Of the cast votes in the AJK region and Pakistan, the PTI bagged a total of 613,590 ballots or 32.5pc of the votes resulting in 25 seats. The PML-N clinched 491,091 ballots or 25.65pc of the votes, which produced six seats. The PPP obtained 349,895 votes or 18.28pc, which won it 11 seats. The AJ&KMC got 153,861 ballots or 8.4pc and one seat while the TLP secured 94,487 votes or 4.94pc winning no seat.

The PMLN’s popular votes are more than the PPP’s but it won less seats than the latter because of the first past the post system. Therefore, more popular votes overall may not necessarily bring more seats than those getting less votes.

The data uploaded by the AJK Election Commission (AJKEC) on its website did not provide the separate breakup of votes polled by the winning political parties in the AJK region and Pakistan.

The victors bagged less than 5,500 votes in at least six of the 12 refugees’ seats. Their vote tally was 3,548, 3,344, 2,886, 3,548, 4,579 and 4,432 ballots. There are more than 400,000 registered voters for the refugees’ seats scattered all over Pakistan.

The number of cast votes was considerable in the rest of the six constituencies of refugees compared to those where a few thousand votes produced victories. There, the votes polled were 10,553, 46,268, 54,115, 62,520, 28,716 and 22,550.

The largest number of voters, 79,992, exercised their right of franchise in the LA-VII Bhimber-III constituency, which saw the biggest turnout. It was followed by LA-XVII Bagh-IV (Haveli) where 71,035 ballots were cast.

Compared to the refugees’ seats, the voter participation in the AJK region was considerable. However, the number of registered voters for the AJK territory seats is invariably more than those for the refugees’ constituencies.

The overall turnout in Sunday’s elections – just over 58pc – was considerably less than the voter participation in the last general elections in 2016, which stood at 65pc.