A ‘Swing voter’ is a floating voter who has no allegiance to any political party, and whose unpredictable decisions can impact the outcome of an election in one way or the other.In Pakistan, millions of youth voters have been registered especially after the latest census, and will be first-time voters — many of them swing voters. If they decide to vote for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) the chances of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) repeating its term would be obscured. According to the latest data, there are 17.44m voters between the ages 18 and 25; the number of voters between the ages 26 and 35 years is 28.99m; while there are 22.48m voters between the ages 36 and 45 years.With PML-N in the line of fire vis-à-vis cases against its leaders and Nawaz Sharif’s narratives, and PTI’s strategy to welcome the electables could turn the tables. From 1988 to 1999, the country was heading towards a two-party system when Nawaz’s government was overthrown on 12th October 1999 by the then COAS General Pervez Musharraf. Both major parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the PML-N had been conducting constituency-based politics, and there was hardly any role of the swing voters.In the 1970 elections, the military government had estimated that the elections would result in a hung parliament, but Awami League in East Pakistan secured 160 seats, gaining a clear majority to form the government. In West Pakistan, the PPP secured 81 seats, firstly due to Bhutto’s charisma, and secondly, there was a wave because of PPP’s promise of providing ‘roti, kapra, aur makan’In the 1970 elections, the military government had estimated that the elections would result into a hung parliament, but Awami League in former East Pakistan secured 160 seats, gaining a clear majority to form the government. In West Pakistan, the PPP secured 81 seats, firstly due to Bhutto’s charisma, and secondly, there was a wave because of PPP’s promise of providing ‘roti, kapra, aur makan’. And of course, those undecided voters or swing voters that were not affiliated with any party voted for the popular PPP. However, there has never been any consistency in the voting pattern in various elections. Of course, electables have been shifting loyalties to remain in the corridors of power. In 1997 elections, people were tired of musical chairs of the rulers, and even members of Jamat-e-Islami had reportedly voted for the PML-N so that rightists’ votes were not divided.From 1988 to 2008, six general elections were held. In 1988, the PPP secured 93 seats and with 13 seats of the MQM formed the government in the house of 207 seats. The PML-N secured more seats in Punjab in 1990 and with MQM formed the government. In 1997, however, the PML-N secured 137, and routed the PPP in the elections. General Musharraf had held elections in 2002 when king’s party PML-Q secured 137 seats, PPP secured 81 seats, and PML-N got only 19 seats, as its members had joined the PML-Q.In 2008 elections, the PPP secured 124 seats, the PML-N 91 and PML-Q 61. During its five-year tenure, the PPP-led government was in power at the federal level, and as a coalition partner with other parties in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In Punjab, the PML-N formed the government as a coalition with the PPP, but later the coalition collapsed.If the youth that had thronged Khan’s rallies comes out on voting day, the PTI will be a deciding factor in the formation of next governmentThe people of Pakistan have been disillusioned by the federal as well as provincial governments for bad governance and corruption in almost equal measure. League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party which emerged as the leading political party after the historic 2013 polls in Pakistan, enjoys simple majority in the lower house of the parliament when 19 independents announced their affiliations with the party. With 26 women seats and five minority members on special seats, its total tally in the National Assembly came up to 176.In the 2013 elections, PTI had a breakthrough and formed a government in KP, and secured fewer seats but enough to make it the second largest party in Punjab. In the forthcoming 2018 elections, Tehreek-i-Insaf is another important player in the election arena, as people in general say that Imran Khan has not been tested and tried so far, and he deserves a chance.The bulging youth population seems to be on the side of the PTI, and July elections would perhaps have surprises. Voters between the ages of 18 and 30 make up around 35 percent of the registered voters, and PTI is likely to benefit from this significant demographic change of youth bulge and urbanisation.In Punjab, Imran Khan could make a dent in the popularity of the PML-N; of course, he has a tremendous following in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Women voters in urban Punjab also are inclined to vote for Imran Khan’s PTI.If the youth that had thronged Khan’s rallies comes out on the voting day, the PTI will be a deciding factor in the formation of next government. But one should not write off the PPP and the PML-N completely, because both parties are likely to benefit through seat adjustment, and will certainly have their share, but they will secure less number of seats as compared with 2008 and 2013 elections.Earlier, PTI did not stand a chance in the rural areas because ‘pirs, jagirdars, sardars and waderas’ or feudal lords rule roost in those areas. But understanding the realpolitik, Imran Khan is on the hunt for electables. At the same time, PML-N members are disillusioned with the narratives of Nawaz Sharif, and quite a few of them have joined the PTI.If the verdict in the accountability court is against Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, Imran factor may make a dent in PML-N’s popularity.The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, May 31st 2018.