Voter turnout registers 2.7pc increase -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Voter turnout registers 2.7pc increase

ISLAMABAD, Feb 22: The voters turnout in the February 18 general elections was 44.6 per cent, showing an increase of 2.7 per cent over the 2002 elections.

Out of 262 constituencies, 171 registered improvement in voter turnout, which was recorded at 25.37 per cent at maximum. Thirteen constituencies 11 in Sindh and two in Punjab showed more than 15 per cent increase in the turnout. There were six constituencies where the turn-out dropped by more than 10 per cent as compared to the 2002 polls.

According to a consolidated report compiled by Election observation cell of Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), a civil society organization, NA-73-Bhakkar-1, NA-74 Bhakkar II, NA-103-Hafizababad-II, NA-154-Lodhran-I, NA-155 Lodhran-II, NA-181-Layyah-I, NA-229-Tharparkar-I, NA-230- Tharparkar-II, NA-244-Karachi-VI and NA-102 Hafizabad-I remained the top ten constituencies in terms of highest voters’ turn out which ranged between 67.3 per cent and 61.2 per cent.

There were 10 constituencies where the turn-out remained below 25 per cent. The lowest turn-out was in NA-43 Tribal Areas- VIII which remained 12.8 per cent. There were six constituencies where not even a single polled vote was declared as invalid. These included NA-4 Peshawar-IV, NA-86 Jhang-1, NA-90-Jhang-V, NA-130 Lahore-XIII, NA-150 Multan-III and NA-230 Tharparkar-II.

The highest number of rejected votes 11,393 was in NA-61 Chakwal, followed by 9082 in NA-11 Mardan-III; 8728 in NA-224 Badin-Tando M Khan-1; 8524 in NA-88 Jhang-II; 8388 in NA-100 Gujranwala-VI; 7288 in NA-57 Attock-I; 6537 in NA-116 Narowal-II; 4982 in NA-270-Awaran-Lasbela; 4216 in NA-269 Khuzdar; 4165 in NA-28-Buner and 3288 in NA-264-Zhob-Sherani-Qila Saifullah.

According to the report, polling was delayed in 26 polling stations – 19 in Punjab, four in Sindh, two in NWFP and one in Baluchistan. At six of these polling stations of three constituencies including NA-180-Muzaffargarh, NA-192-Rahim Yar Khan and NA-224-Badin, polling did not start even an hour after polling time. At 18 polling stations of eight constituencies, arrangements for secret balloting were not ensured. For instance, in Lodhran in NA-154 and 155, polling stations 241, 137, 168, 262 and 265 ballot boxes were not properly sealed and boxes had been tied with ropes.

Meanwhile, according to an exit poll carried out by Gallup Pakistan, 78 per cent of the voters said they would prefer that the new Prime Minister should exercise more powers than the President. However, when asked to give their perceptions of what might actually happen, their views were quite different. Forty per cent believed that in reality the President would exercise more powers. The poll found a sharp difference between the preferences of voters and their expectations about the realization of their preferences.

The survey showed a high degree of clarity among the cross- section of men and women voters of all ages, educational and income status on who should exercise more powers as 78 per cent support more powers to the Prime Minister.

However the survey findings also reflect a high degree of skepticism on the practice since only 60 per cent believed that the new elected Prime Minister would actually have more powers in running the country.

The distribution of power between the President and the Prime Minister has been a troublesome issue in Pakistan’s recent political history. In some cases, it led to the dissolution of the parliament while in others it created a situation where the Parliament, in the view of many, ceased to perform its Constitutional function.

Given that background the voters who voted in the 2008 elections for the Parliament in Pakistan were asked to give their understanding of who should have more powers to run the country: the President or the Prime Minister. They were also asked to state their expectations of what might happen in practice. They were asked (irrespective of what their own preference was) who would exercise more powers, once the new parliament is elected: the President or the Prime Minister.

In all 5538 voters in the four provinces were interviewed on February 18, as they stepped out of the polling stations.

Constituencies with less than 25% voter turnout

C.No. Constituency %age 2008 %age 2002 Difference
43
Tribal Area vIII 12.80%
23.98%
-11.13%

259
Quetta 17.10%
24.28%
-7.13%

44
Tribal Area iX 17.70%
21.96%
-4.27%

29
Swat-I 18.10%
31.94%
-13.80%

36
Tribal Area I 18.50%
23.12%
-4.66%

30
Swat-II 19.80%
32.41%
-12.64%

1
Peshawar-I 23.00%
28.73%
-5.76%

266
Nasirabad-Jaffarabad 23.40%
25.68%
-2.32%

34
Lower Dir 24.20%
28.28%
-4.08%

2
Peshawar-II 24.70%
26.49%
-1.75%

Top 10 Constituencies with high percentage of voter turnout

C.No. Constituency %age 2008 %age 2002 Difference
73
Bhakkar-I 67.30%
62.84%
4.49%

74
Bhakkar-II 64.80%
61.99%
2.82%

103
Hafizabad-II 63.40%
55.86%
7.51%

154
Lodhran-I 66.30%
54.32%
11.99%

155
Lodhran-II 65.30%
53.86%
11.42%

181
Layyah-I 63.60%
57.67%
5.92%

229
Tharparkar-I 65.00%
60.98%
4.05%

Source: Dawn
Date:2/23/2008