Maurice Duverger, a French politician, a jurist and an emeritus professor of the Sorbonne, was the first to discover that countries practicing single-member district plurality (SMDP), or as we call them first-past-the-post or winner-takes-all, end up breeding a two-party system. In Pakistan, we have a voting system whereby “voters have a single vote which they can cast for a single candidate in their constituency, in which only one legislative seat is available.”
As a consequence of SMDP-based elections in 1970, 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008, Pakistan has a two party electoral system (frequent military interventions have at times distorted the natural evolution of a two-party system). As per Duverger’s Law we have the PPP and the PML-N; two major parties with dissimilar ideologies. Under the Law, if the PTI, a minor party, tries to exploit established vote banks, the PTI will draw votes from a major party most similar to the PTI. And, that would most certainly be the PML-N not the PPP (as a result, the PPP, the most dissimilar party to the PTI, will win). What then is the probability that the PPP would come back with a majority? A two-third majority?
In 2008, Karachi elected 20 MNAs, the most from any one city. The MQM won 17 general seats and the PPP won three. The NA-239, 248 and 258 are PPP strongholds. In NA-248, Nabeel Ahmed Gabol of PPP polled some 85 percent of all valid votes. NA-240, Karachi II, was hotly contested but MQM won by a small margin.
Lahore sends in 12 MNAs. Here, NA-118, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 127 and 128 are the PML-N’s traditional strongholds where its candidates win by extra-wide margins. Moreover, NA-119 was won by Hamza Shehbaz, uncontested. In NA-125 Khawaja Saad Rafique polled more than 70,000 votes. NA-129, Lahore XII, was hotly contested by the PML-N, PPP and PML-Q but the PPP won. In NA-130, the PPP won and next time around the PTI would further cut down the PML-N and the PPP will win with a wider margin.
Faisalabad has 11 general seats of which eight are in rural areas. Of the total population around 64 percent is rural. According to extensive research into election results from 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997 and 2002 conducted by Dr Mughees Ahmed, “Only biradaries in numerical majority are successful. It means that people cast their votes to biradari supported candidates.” Six of the largest biradaries are Jaat, Rajput, Arain, Kharal, Baloch and Gujar. For the PTI to win a seat or two in Faisalabad, Imran Khan would have to team up with one or more of the six biradaries.
Balochistan has a total of 14 general seats. In NA-259 and 260, the PTI can be a spoiler whereby the PPP will win by even wider margins. Most other constituencies are strongholds of the Jamalis, Jogezais, Mandokhails, Kakars, Bugtis, Rinds, Marris, Kurds, Durranis and Bizenjos. Is the PTI going to join forces with the sardars?
Can the PTI grab a seat or two in Sukkar, Ghotki, Shikarpur, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Hyderabad, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Dadu, Sanghar or Thatta? Looks very, very difficult. Can the PTI win one of the four seats from Peshawar? What are PTI’s chances in Nowshera, Charsada, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Karak, Haripur or Mansehra? How about Abbotabad? May be a couple of seats-at best.
Punjab sends in 148 MNAs. The PTI’s chances in Lodhran, Khanewal, Pakpattan, Vehari, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Muzafargarh, Layyah, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar are quite dismal. How about winning a handful of seats from Sargodha, Mianwalli, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sheikhupura and Multan? Perhaps, but a handful at best. Imran Khan is bound to become the ‘spoiler’ whereby the PTI’s candidates have little or no chance of wining but the party’s presence in the election will draw votes from the PML-N thus causing the PPP to win by even wider margins. To be certain, the ‘spoiler effect’ has a firm statistical basis referred to as the ‘independence of irrelevant alternatives’.
Source: The News - 7th Aug 2011