The PML-N domination of the Pakistan's electoral scene is visible every which way.  The national level division of votes and shares puts the party way above all else, thanks to its sweep of the Punjab.

But once again, the comparison of the seats and votes percentages reveals that the PML-N remains adept at managing a high number of seats out of a comparatively lower percentage of votes. In fact, apart from the MQM it is the only party to win more seats than votes - percentage wise.

On the other hand, the PPPP, despite its rout, continues to win over more votes than seats.

However, in 2013 it shares this honour now with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf which in terms of seats remains lower than the PPPP but has emerged as the second biggest party at the national level if the share of votes is considered.

In fact, the disconnect between the PTI vote and seat share is the largest of all the parties represented in the bar chart.

Nonetheless, the emergence of the PTI at the national level for a party that had little or no representation in the last two elections is the biggest story of Election 2013.

Even if the party has not been able to win as many seats as some of its more ardent fans or analysts had predicted, the party has made signifcant inroads in two of the four provinces as well as having made its presence felt in Sindh. More details of this phenonemon are provided in the provincial sections.

As usual, the religio-political parties such as JUI-F and JI have not managed much success and stayed below the five per cent mark.

The only other trend is the near obliteration of the PML, which unoffically is known as the PML-Q. Nationally it was the second largest party in 2008 in terms of votes polled and it had bagged a hefty 42 directly elected seats.

Its national presence has now been reduced to two seats and around three per cent of the vote.

In the near future, once the details of the results are finalised, the focus of most analyses will be on the success of PML-N; the emergence of PTI; the unprecedented disaster that was the PPPP and the expected obliteration of the PML.

Punjab — the unexpected sweep

Punjab never ceases to surprise and 2013 was no different. In the run up to the elections, everyone was sure that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will do well in the elections of 2013.

Several things were going in its favour such as the incumbency factor which was expected to hurt the PPPP that was ruling and had by most accounts not governed well. This was expected to benefit the PML-N.

map 2a
At the same time, the PML-N is one party that has not been hurt by the incumbency factor despite the fact that it ruled Punjab for five years.

It seems as if projects such as the Metro Bus project and the earlier Sasti Roti scheme, which was not praised by economic experts, had helped create the perception that the party was much better at delivering and governance than the PPPP.

Third, the N was seen to gain from the steady decline of the Pakistan Muslim League (that has dropped the Q since 2008) and the defections of its leaders to the PML-N.

Yet, the extent of PML-N's victory in Punjab has surprised nearly everyone.

Partly this is because the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf did not emerge as the formidable force expected in the province.

As a result, the PML-N has taken a massive 116 seats out of the 148 contributed to the National Assembly from Punjab. PTI on the other hand managed to bag a measly eight seats from Punjab.

However, more than the seats, the votes’ percentage tells the story of the change in the province.

The PML which claimed 29 per cent of the voter share in the 2008 elections has shrivelled up to barely anything, winning only two seats in 2013.

A large chunk of its vote share of 2008 has gone to the PML-N.

However, it must be kept in mind that the PML-N did not manage to reach the 58 per cent figure that was the total of the PML-N and PML share in the 2008 elections.

Even if the 2013 vote share of the PML-N was increased because of absorbing the PML share, there is still 11 per cent unaccounted for.

In any case, not all the PML share could have come the N way, as some of the former’s legislators fought the 2013 election as independent candidates; some joined the PTI and some also went to the PTI.

Furthermore, there is a severe shrink in the PPPP vote share from 29 per cent in 2008 to 11 per cent in 2013, which also needs to be traced.

The fall in PPPP’s vote share is staggering.

Even in 1997, the great anomalous PML-N sweep of Pakistani history, the PPPP still managed a 22 per cent vote share in Punjab.

This time around, it has fallen even lower though it managed two seats this time around; in 1997 it won no NA seat from Punjab. Consequently, it seems as if the PPPP and the PML have together lost around 40 per cent of vote share between 2008 and 2013 (58 per cent in 2008 versus 16 per cent in 2013), but the gain in votes by PML-N has only been 20 per cent.

This is where the PTI has shown its force. A party, which disappointed its supporters as well as the analysts with its seat tally, has attracted a hefty 19 per cent of the vote share.

map 2b

As a result it can safely be said that the loss of the PPPP and the PML has turned into the gain of both the PML-N and the PTI.

In other words, it can still be said that the PTI did manage to be a hurdle to a PML-N sweep of the province. Had the PTI not been around, the PML-N might have repeated its 1997 performance when it garnered 60 per cent of the vote in the province.

It should also be noted that the PML-N has only twice in its history exceeded the 40 per cent vote share mark in the Punjab and both times the PPPP received an especially stringent beating from the voter in the province.

It now remains to be seen if the current PPPP slump of voter share is a temporary phenomenon or not.

The invisible change in Sindh

Sindh is a province that does not follow the adage that change is the only constant. Since 1988, the two main cities of the province faithfully vote for Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the interior votes for the Pakistan People's Party.

This is what was predicted before May 11.

But a few days after the election it is now safe to say that the province has not rejected change completely.

The PPPP has taken a hit in its bastion.

Its vote percentage has gone down five per cent - either this reflects the voters' anger with the party or this was the vote swing that went the way of the PPPP in 2008 due to Benazir Bhutto's assasination and could not be expected to last. It could also be a combination of the two reasons.

At the same time, the MQM has also dropped about four per cent.

This is relatively surprising but not explicable as the PTI has emerged as a considerable force in Karachi city and the initial analysis shows that the party took some of the PPPP and MQM vote in the province's major urban centre.

This can be one reason for the drop in the MQM vote percentage.

A third party that saw a drop in its percentage point was PML-Q or PML. From a 12 per cent in 2008 it has virtually disappeared from the electoral scene this year.

The emergence of PTI with a significant eight per cent of the vote is also a huge change for a province in which no party - since the emergence of the MQM in the eighties - has been able to make such a mark on the politics of this province.

As the PML-N has made a re-emergence in the province with a five per cent vote it can safely be said that losses of the PPPP, MQM and PML turned into gains for PTI, PML-N and PML-F (the latter has also improved its share from six per cent to 10 per cent).

The PML-N jump may not seem significant but it includes a National Assembly seat in Karachi that previously went to PPPP. In symbolic terms this has to be considered a significant gain.

As the losses of the first three (21 per cent) were higher than the gains of the last three (17 per cent), it can safely be assumed that other categories such as "Others" and "Independents" made some gains too.

However, the large margins on the seats won by MQM and PPPP means that the drop in their vote percentages does not seem to have made much difference to their seat tally - notwithstanding the results still awaited, both of them have just one seat less than 2008.

At the same time, PTI - despite the sudden jump in its vote - has not been able to win any seats.

But this distortion or discrepancy between seats and votes is a result of the first past the post system, which works in favour of the bigger parties and hurts the support of the smaller parties that finds no representation in the parliament.

This is why the PPPP, which always wins more votes than seats in Punjab, gains from this system in Sindh.

This year too, it has over 50 per cent of the seats on less than 40 per cent of the vote. MQM enjoys a similar advantage.


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