Local government elections conclude peacefully amid low voter turnout
The results of the much-anticipated local government elections are out. According to the unofficial results, the PPP has taken the lead with the PTI coming second. Independent candidates are the third largest bloc.
The elections were scheduled to be held on 160 UCs of the nine towns under Hyderabad Municipal Corporation but six candidates passed away ahead of the polling day. As a result, elections were for 154 UCs across the city. Fresh elections will be held on the remaining six seats.
The unofficial results of 154 UCs have been announced. The PPP has clinched 94 UCs out of these, is poised to elect the first ever jiyala mayor in the second-largest city of Sindh. The party swept the Qasimabad Town, winning all 18 seats.
The PTI won 41 seats and emerged second in the race. It appears that the party was a beneficiary of the boycott announced by the MQM-P earlier, especially in the Shah Latif Colony.
Independent candidates won 15 seats. The TLP, which was contesting in the local bodies elections for the first time, succeeded in 3 UCs while the JI, managed to win only one seat.
The long delay in the announcement of election results fanned speculations and led to allegations of rigging. Representatives from the Grand Democratic Alliance, the PTI and the JI claimed that the results had been tampered with.
The PPP denied the allegations. The Election Commission of Pakistan also rejected the claims. It maintained that the polls were fair and there was no foul play.
The polling had begun at 8am and continued till 5pm. It was reported that at some polling stations, the polling began late because the staff had not arrived or arrangements were still being made.
A total of 772 polling stations and 2,276 polling booths were established for 1,053,772 voters registered in the nine town municipal corporations. Strict security arrangements were also made.
Overall, the polling was peaceful, apart from a few confrontations between PPP and PTI workers at some polling stations.
The turnout in urban areas was said to have been low. One of the main reasons for low turnout in certain UCs was the MQM-P’s call for boycott.
Free and Fair Election Network estimated that the voter turnout in the Hyderabad division was over 40 percent.
Senior citizen Ishfaq Ali told The News on Sunday that he had decided not to cast his vote. “We have been abandoned,” said Ali.
“Only last year, we bore the brunt of an economic and environmental crisis, and were abandoned by our representatives amidst political chaos,” he stated.
“The people are on the verge of giving up,” said Ali. “We lost hope in our representatives a long time ago.”
“We’re suffering and there is anger brewing up in the city,” said Ali. He said not showing up to vote was one way of expressing that anger.
Ismail from Qasimabad disagreed. “Voting in the local government elections is vital,” he commented. “We must take part in elections if we want to pick the best representatives,” he said.
Muhammad Idress from Preetabad who chose not to vote had a different perspective. “Hope is dead,” he said. “The people and their votes matter only when the elite needs them,” he sighed.
“We have been voting in the local government and general elections for decades now,” said Idrees, “and we have regretted it every single time.”
Rahul Desar is a student rights activist based in Hyderabad. He tweets @rahuldesar