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Numbers game for PM post

Updated July 31, 2018

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KARACHI: Procedure to elect the Leader of the House in the National Assembly, who automatically becomes prime minister, is simple if a party has a clear majority but somewhat tricky in case it doesn’t have the magical number of 172 votes.

Even though the PTI leadership has gone into full swing to lure as many independent members and those from smaller parties as possible in an attempt to acquire the required number of votes for getting Imran Khan elected as the next prime minister, it may still be short of a clear majority in the 342-member house that includes those elected on reserved seats.

But this does not mean he cannot become the next prime minister.

In case Mr Khan manages to get 172 or more votes in the first round, it will be mandatory for the president to call him to take the oath as the country’s next prime minister. However, if he doesn’t get the required number then, according to Article 91(4) of the Constitution, there will be a second round of voting. The second round will be between the top two candidates regardless of whether there were two or more candidates in the first round of polling.

In this round, however, the winner will not need a minimum of 172 votes. The contestant who gets the majority of votes in the House will be elected leader of the lower house, and will become the prime minister. And in a rare case, if there is a tie between the contestants, another round of voting will take place as per the Constitution and the one who gets a majority of votes will be elected as the next PM.

Another legal interpretation is that since elections were postponed on two seats, the full house will comprise 340 members. If this interpretation is accepted by the speaker, the winner in the first round will require 171 votes to get elected as leader of the house.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2018