By failing to finalize a federal cabinet after more than a week having passed since coming to power, the coalition government has revealed a weakness that was largely expected would come to the fore early on: an inability to make important decisions in a timely manner as a unit due to the plethora of parties involved that have conflicting interests, not enough important positions to go around and fundamentally divergent political ideologies and strategies. It therefore seems unlikely that this alliance will be able to take the pressures of governing as one and facing the challenges faced by the country, primarily among which is the precarious condition of the economy. Imran Khan has already switched gears and is in election-mode, ready to contest them as soon as possible. One reason for this is perhaps he feels that his narrative of losing a vote of no-confidence was part of a ‘US-backed conspiracy’ is catching on, reflected in impressive attendance at his last two rallies and a general public sentiment which feels he has been wronged.
What is more, there are voices from within the senior leadership of the new government also calling for early elections to secure a fresh mandate and form a government; this includes Khwaja Asif of the PML-N and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. This would also be the sensible political way forward because the longer elections are put on hold; this government will have to take more unpopular decisions, such as fuel price increases and passing a pro-IMF budget that may include income tax rate hikes, than it would ideally want to. Had the PTI remained in power, which it tried its best to do, these inflationary measures would’ve been attributed to them going into elections. This is seemingly why major parties, such as the PPP and MQM-P don’t want to take any portfolios in the current setup with only one-and-a-half year to go, which is another reason for the inordinate delay in the announcement of the federal cabinet.
Another factor to consider in all of this is the unpreparedness of the ECP, stating that it needs six months before ‘free and fair’ elections can be held as fresh countrywide delimitation of constituencies must be completed first. The country is currently in lingo as it has a prime minster with no cabinet, facing immense challenges, both internal and external. Early elections may be the only sensible political and practical way forward for the government to end the stalemate.