Massive internet shutdowns have overshadowed the elections in Pakistan. Who will emerge as the winner? There is still no clear result – but there is a surprising trend.
According to partial results, independent candidates are surprisingly ahead in the parliamentary elections in Pakistan. After counting around half of the 266 constituencies, candidates registered as independents received almost 40 percent of the vote, according to statistics from the Electoral Commission.
According to observers, a large number of these candidates have connections to the imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his opposition party PTI. Following a ruling by the Supreme Court, members of the PTI were only allowed to run as independent candidates.
Nawaz Sharif was the previous favorite
The PML-N of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was recently considered the favorite, was in second place with a good 30 percent. The People’s Party PPP with its 35-year-old top candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari follows with around 25 percent.
Most recently, in the country with more than 240 million inhabitants, the PML-N and PPP were in a broad government coalition with a PML-N prime minister following the overthrow of Imran Khan by a vote of no confidence. However, on the evening before the election, Bhutto Zardari initially ruled out working with the PML-N. The PML-N and PPP are now also likely to court the favor of the independent candidates. Pakistani politicians have repeatedly changed their loyalties in the past.
Pakistan’s National Assembly has 336 seats, of which 266 are directly elected. A further 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims, which are filled according to the strength of the individual parties. With the additional seats, the large established parties are likely to increase their weight in parliament compared to the independents. Independent candidates have 72 hours after the election to join other parties or form their own factions.
After internet blocks on election day and massive delays in counting votes, observers and opposition supporters have expressed doubts about a free and fair election. Around 130 million eligible voters were called on Thursday in the nuclear power to vote on the distribution of power in the National Assembly and the provincial parliaments.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.