ISLAMABAD: As the race for the slot of next president has already started after the nominations made by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a tough contest is set to take place between the government coalition and the joint opposition alliance.
PTI has named its senior leader Dr Arif Alvi and PPP has nominated its senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan as potential candidates for the election.
Well-placed sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) informed Pakistan Today that “the PTI and its allied parties are better placed to win the presidential race with a thin margin while the independent candidates may prove to be trump card”. Although, the PPP nominee Aitzaz Ahsan is set to give a tough time to his opponent due to his credentials, which include his political stature, long political struggle and his lead role in the lawyers’ movement.
Though the ECP is getting ready to hold the by-elections for around 37 constituencies before the presidential elections including 11 national and 26 provincial assembly seats, the results of the by-polls are likely not to change the scenario much.
Under the constitutional provisions, the Electoral College for the presidential election includes 1174 members of National Assembly, Senate and the four provincial assemblies.
Under the procedure, each member of National Assembly and Senate would have one vote while Balochistan Assembly, being the smallest federating unit, would be the precedent for voting for other assemblies. Hence each member of Balochistan Assembly would cast one vote which will add up to 65 votes.
However, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies would also have 65 votes irrespective of their actual strength. Resultantly, 5.70 members of Punjab Assembly would have one vote, while 2.58 members of Sindh Assembly would have one vote and 1.90 members of KP Assembly would also have one vote.
Therefore, 342 members of the National Assembly, 104 members of Senate and 260 members would have the right to vote for the next president.
Thereby, meaning that the Electoral College for the presidential election would comprise of 706 votes.
In the National Assembly, there are 330 members while by-election for 12 members is going to take place soon.
Out of the sitting 330 members, 176 members belong to PTI and its allied parties while the opposition alliance has 150 members. Four members have decided to keep their identity as independents. Hence, the PTI and its allies are in majority.
In the Senate, the opposition alliance is in the majority as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), PPP and their allied have 68 members while the PTI and its allies have 25 members. Moreover, 11 members are independents. Hence, the PTI and its allies have 201 votes in both Houses of the Parliament, while the opposition has a majority with 218 members. The independents, however, can change the scenario as their strength is 15.
In Punjab Assembly, PTI and its allied parties have 189 members and after applying the formula, they would have 33 votes. The opposition alliance has 171 members and would have 30 votes as per formula. The independents are five in number and hence would have one vote.
In Sindh Assembly, Opposition alliance enjoys majority with 98 members. Per formula, they would have 38 votes while the PTI and its allies would have 26 votes. Three members of Tehreek-e-Labbaik would have one vote.
In KP Assembly, the PTI and its allies have a clear majority with 45 votes. The opposition alliance has 33 members who can cast 18 votes. Independents are three so their votes would be two.
Similarly, in Balochistan Assembly, the PTI and its allies have 41 votes, whereas Opposition parties have 16 votes while four members are independents.
Hence, if we add all these numbers, the PTI and its allies would have 346 votes while the grand opposition alliance would have 320 votes.
23 independents may have the last laugh though. The situation may change slightly after the by-elections set to take place before presidential elections that will be held in the second week of September this year.