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Final Tally In Pakistan Elections Announced. What's Next?

11.02.2024 14:27

Independents get 101 seats, Nawaz Sharif's PML N 75, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's PPP 54 Imran Khan has claimed victory, but other major parties kick off talks to form coalition government Hurdles in way of PTI as candidates contested independently after party barred from using election symbol.

A coalition government in Pakistan seemed to be most likely outcome as official results of the Thursday elections were announced.

Although most of the independent candidates backed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan's party won the majority of seats – 101 – in the lower house, or National Assembly, they do not have the required numbers to form the government on their own.

On the contrary, the country's two other main parties, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) have launched talks over forming a coalition government. They have won 75 and 54 seats, respectively.

They are also in contact with allies such as the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), whose 17 lawmakers made it to the parliament.

The National Assembly has 336 seats (266 directly elected, 60 reserved for women, and 10 for religious minorities). These seats are distributed among parties according to the ratio of seats they have won. Any party that wants its leader at the top post will need 169 votes in the house.

The reserved seats will play a crucial role in determining who becomes the next head of government. But the PTI is not eligible for the reserved seats "a as its candidates contested independently after the party was barred from using its iconic electoral symbol, the cricket bat.

Extension of PDM?

If talks mature, and the parties manage to muster enough support from smaller parties to reach the magic number, a coalition government headed by the PPP and PML-N, essentially an extension of the government formed after the ouster of Khan in April in 2022, is likely.

The alliance had named itself Pakistan Democratic Movement or PDM. The PPP, although a major stakeholder in the then government, however, said it was not part of the PDM.

Can independents join PPP?

If talks between the PPP and PML-N, however, fail and there is no consensus on major sticking points, a possible scenario is an alliance between the PPP and independents, with the party led by Nawaz sitting on opposition benches.

Independents, the game-changers?

While the PTI says its supported candidates will remain loyal and will not join other parties in defiance of Khan, other parties are courting the lawmakers to gain simple majority in the parliament.

Independents can either join a party favored by Khan, or lend support to his opponents. This would also increase the number of reserved seats for the respective parties.

In any case, the independents can be counted as the game-changers.

-Positions in provinces

While the situation at the federal is still unclear, in provinces the circumstances are less misty. The PPP will make its fourth consecutive government in the southern Sindh province, and the PTI will come into power again in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In Balochistan, there is likely to be a coalition, whereas in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, the PML-N has the most number of seats and it will be in a position to have its chief minister provided it comes out of the legal challenges being mounted by the PTI over alleged electoral fraud.

-Can Imran Khan become the prime minister?

Khan, 71, faces 202 cases and is convicted in three including for corruption and leaking state secrets.

The former cricket star, in jail since August 2023, is disqualified from holding public office. He cannot lead his party officially, and a relief in the short-term seems unlikely. -

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