The inevitable hung parliament

What we can look forward to is a definite hung parliament. There are too many players, and not a single one has concentrated power anywhere

The 2018 general elections are upon on. This time many political parties are getting ready to fight for the throne, but no one can yet declare a conclusive winner. Who will become the leader of the House? The predictions seem to be going in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

But what happens if no one can form a government at the centre alone? In a house of 343 members, the Leader of the House will be one that has more than 172 members. Will the government be formed by one party or a coalition? Who will take a large enough number of seats?

The Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), PTI and Mutahhida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) have all thrown their hats in the ring. Who among them will win? Or will it be a smaller group that leads the lead? An independent group is also contesting, and the Jeep may overtake all else in this race.

PML-N has lost its favour with the establishment and has little to no change of grabbing the prime minister seat. PPP is on its way to creating a coalition. PTI has the best chance of getting the throne.

But what is the actual position of provinces? As usual, Punjab has more power with 141 seats, followed by Sindh with 61, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 39, Balochistan with 16, FATA with 12, and Islamabad with three seats. There are 60 seats reserved for women, and 10 for minorities.

Punjab is therefore the main province to watch. All eyes are on PML-N and PTI, but we will not ignore independent candidates either. The seasoned N-league is no stranger to controversy, and is gearing up for the storm. Nawaz and his daughter Maryam’s arrest will only add to their campaign’s impetus.

Who will lead the parliament after elections are done and dusted? We will find out soon enough — but PTI’s edge may help it pick up some speed

PTI has many heavyweight candidates under its belt now. A small number of independents also win from this region. PPP can also be expected to pull a few surprises at the end. The party has an edge in Sindh, which is the stronghold. Although the Sindh Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) is trying to capture the province, it will be difficult. The Mutahhida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will also be in a similar position and is expected to lose many seats. PTI, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), and the MMA are also in the race, and cannot be ignored. PPP President Asif Ali Zardari has said that he will be a part of the coalition government. He indicated that Bilawal may be the next leader of the opposition.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been plagued with terrorism since election campaigns began. It has been difficult for parties to campaign, but even here, the PTI has been in power for five years. On the other hand, PPP has awarded many tickets to serious candidates, while MMA also has a significant vote bank.

Similarly, Balochistan has also experienced terrorism recently, when 130 people lost their lives in Mastung. The attack killed Siraj Raisani.

What we can look forward to is a definite hung parliament. There are too many players, and not a single one has concentrated power anywhere. Smaller groups shall be a part of the coalition government, and one main party may play the role of the opposition.

Who will lead the parliament after elections are done and dusted? We will find out soon enough — but PTI’s edge may help it pick up some speed.

The writer is a retired doctor of the Sindh Health Department

Published in Daily Times, July 18th 2018.