Amid tight security, Pakistan went into the 11th general elections on Wednesday, 25 July, with voting underway in 85,000 polling booths across the nation. The military is reportedly deploying 350,000 soldiers nationwide, at the request of the Election Commission.
The country is voting to choose a new Prime Minister and a new government and is holding elections simultaneously to the parliament and the four provincial Assemblies in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In the nation of approximately 207 million, 106 million people are expected to cast their votes on Wednesday, according to Dawn.
A total of 849 directly elected seats are up for grabs in the election, which includes 272 seats in the national Assembly and 577 seats in the country’s four provincial assemblies. Gulf News reported that a total of 11,855 candidates are competing for these 849 seats, out of which 8,396 candidates are running for the 577 provincial assembly seats. The remaining 3,459 candidates – 1,623 from Punjab, 824 from Sindh, 725 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 287 from Balochistan are in running for the 272 seats in the national Assembly, according to the report.
This election will mark only the second-ever democratic handover of power in Pakistan, without military rule in between. The incumbent elected government completed its full term on 31 May and handed over power to a caretaker government on 5 June. But this election has been surrounded by reported tensions between the incumbent government and the powerful military.
The results are expected by 26 or 27 July.
With this being Pakistan’s second democratic handover of the government, India and the world will be watching closely to judge the stability and capability of Pakistani democracy – especially that of the civilian government. A stable civilian government is the partner of choice for India in diplomatic efforts, and the country would hope that a strong civilian establishment could reign in the Pakistani Army.
Here’s a look at how Pakistan elects its legislative members, key players and how the election affects India.
The Pakistan National Assembly has a total of 342 seats. Out of these, 272 general seats are filled by direct election, while 60 seats are reserved for women. 10 more seats are reserved for religious minorities.
Members are elected through first-past-the-post system under universal adult suffrage. A party needs to win 172 seats to obtain a majority.
These seats are allocated to parties based on the number of general seats they win in the general assembly. A simple formula of 272 (general seats) divided by 60 (the number of reserved seats) is used to allocate each reserved seat for women. Effectively, a party winning 4.5 seats will get one seat for a woman, The Express Tribune reported.
For this process, parties are required to submit a list of woman candidates with their priorities marked. On the basis of this priority, women are allocated seats in the National Assembly.
The formula of dividing 272 by 10 is used to allocate one minority seat, meaning that political parties winning 27.2 general seats will get one minority seat.
What is special about this election is that the nation will see a record number of women contesting even for general seats.