The week after May 11, all Pakistanis can stand tall and be proud of what they have accomplished. We have shown that we are among the bravest citizens of any country in the world, participating in massive rallies leading up to the election, and turning out to vote on election day in record numbers, despite the Taliban threats and violence. We were also decisive, handing the PML-N a landslide victory, yielding the PPP a massive blow and giving third-party status to the PTI.
While a small number of results may turn out to be affected by vote rigging and irregularities, these election results truly reflect the voice of the Pakistani people. My research using election results and development funds data from the 1990s shows that Pakistani voters are not irrational: they will vote for the candidate or party, who provides them the most benefits, and against those they see as having wronged them. For its resounding victory, the PML-N deserves nothing but congratulations, genuine goodwill and support for tackling the monumental tasks it faces. Nawaz Sharif has shown maturity in his last five years in the opposition and exudes determination going forward. These characteristics will serve him well in office.
Imran Khan deserves accolades for energising Pakistan’s vocal urban youth, as well as many older, educated, and previously politically unengaged urbanites in turning out to vote. As such, the increase in voter turnout to around 60 per cent must, at least, partly be attributed to his efforts. The PTI is now a formidable third party in Pakistan, fundamentally changing the structure of the Pakistani party system and democracy as we know it. According to my calculations based on data from the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) website (as of May 16), of Punjab’s 138 National Assembly constituencies where the PTI was not the winner (it won eight National Assembly seats in Punjab) and where results were not withheld, the second runner-up candidate belonged to the PTI in 48 constituencies. That is an impressive achievement, one which the PTI and Mr Khan must be very proud of. It demonstrates that the PTI has made considerable inroads in Punjab.
Author(s): Davin O'Regan