Female voters’ turnout in KP’s local govt polls remained 30pc: Fafen

Published April 6, 2022
This file photo shows a woman casting her vote at a polling booth during the second phase of the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the second phase of the local government elections. — DawnNewsTV
This file photo shows a woman casting her vote at a polling booth during the second phase of the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the second phase of the local government elections. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The female voters’ turnout remained 30pc compared to 41pc of males during the second phase of the local government (LG) elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The Free and Fair Elections Network (Fafen), in a report, said statistics were based on the gender-disaggregated data available for 49 tehsils. It said none of these tehsils reported women turnout less than 10pc of the total polled votes.

The returning officers responsible for Bahrain, Khwazakhela, Bazai (Swat) and Martung and Chakisar (Shangla) tehsils did not provide gender-disaggregated data of polled votes on Form-XIX (Provisional Consolidated Statement of Results of the Count).

The report also revealed that the number of ballots excluded from the count were more than the margin of victory for the seats of chairmen in 28 tehsils.

Report says 34,734 candidates were in the run at tehsil, neighbourhood, village council levels

Fafen said around 41pc of the 8.5 million registered voters in 18 districts turned out to vote on March 31 to elect 12,875 representatives on general and reserved seats in an election that was largely peaceful, orderly and transparent.

Against the backdrop of political uncertainty amid the impending no-confidence motion against the prime minister and resulting political fragmentation, the election process remained largely peaceful with a reasonable voter turnout, it noted.

The election remained highly competitive as political unity among opposition parties at the centre did not translate into electoral alliances or seat adjustments at the local level.

As many as 34,734 candidates, including the ones fielded by 25 political parties, were in the run for general and reserved seats at the tehsil, neighbourhood and village council levels.

In what was an undeniably a complex, complicated and largescale electoral exercise with more than over 72,000 deployed election officials to manage 6,170 polling stations (3,951 combined, 1,151 male and 1,068 female) comprising 16,509 polling booths (9,218 for men and 7,291 for women), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has become the first province to have fulfilled its constitutional responsibility under Article 140-A(1) to form the third-tier of governance providing representation to local representatives including the marginalised communities such as peasants, workers and women.

However, the election followed a delay of more than two years primarily due to weak political will to decentralise powers that manifested in the shape of legal complications and inadequacies.

The provincial government legalised the delay through an amendment to the KP Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Act, 2020 on the pretext of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The ECP had initially scheduled the second phase of KP’s local government elections for March 27, but the date was changed to March 31, following the Supreme Court’s reversal of an earlier order by the Peshawar High Court that required the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold these elections after Ramazan.

During the second phase, the LG elections were held to elect mayors of two city councils, chairmen of 63 tehsil councils, and members of 1,659 village and 171 neighbourhood councils across 18 districts, including Abbottabad, Swat, Malakand, Upper Chitral, Lower Chitral, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Shangla, Tor Garh, Lower Kohistan, Upper Kohistan, Kolai-Palas, Mansehra, Battagram, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

The elections were postponed in a neighbourhood council Sainabad (Mansehra) due to wrong allotment of election symbol, and two village councils – VC Wahab Khel (Shangla) and VC Mekahband (Malakand) – due to the deaths of the contesting candidates.

Moreover, voting at 18 polling stations in eight districts (South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kolai Palas, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kurram, Upper Kohistan and Battagram) was halted and subsequently postponed due to incidents of violence.

While election result of 11 tehsils is still awaited, the turnout in 54 tehsils where provisional consolidated results have been notified remained 41pc – highest being 55pc in Seo tehsil of Upper Kohistan and the lowest 14pc in Serwakai tehsil of South Waziristan.

The number of ballots excluded from the count at the polling station level was disconcerting, and remained almost 7pc (177,375) of the total votes polled (2,642,982).

Of the 54 provisional results announced so far, there were 28 tehsils where the margin of victory was less than the total number of ballots excluded from the count of the contests of seats of chairmen.

For instance, in Kalkot tehsil of Upper Dir, the margin of victory between the winning and runner-up candidates for the chairmen seat was of seven votes, whereas the total ballots excluded from the count were 1,633. The Election Commission may ascertain the reasons for exclusion of ballots as per Section 8(b) of the Elections Act, 2017 to inform its voter information and education campaigns for future elections.

According to the ECP, results of 52 seats for tehsil chairmen and two of city mayors, the largest vote share was bagged by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with 29.02pc of the polled votes, followed by Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz with 13.64pc, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Pakistan (JUI-P) with 12.24pc, Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan (JIP) with 10.21pc, Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) with 8.86pc, Awami National Party (ANP) with 7pc, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) with 1.3pc, Majlis Wahdatul-i-Muslimeen Pakistan (MWMP) with 1.16pc and the remaining 12 political parties received less than one percent of the polled votes.

The independent candidates secured 13.61pc votes of the total votes polled.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022

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