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Opinion polls

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Various polls have been conducted by different organizations, all of which show inconsistencies and different results.
Based on figures being quoted in newspapers and articles, Pakistan Muslim League (N) looks set to get at least 125 seats general seats which means that by taking on allies in the form of 10FATA seats and close to 12 seats from the KPK, PML-N would have the numbers to form a central government single handedly. At provincial levels,Punjab is locked up, in KPK PML-N can take the JUI-F on board and form a coalition while Balochistan is nearly always independents who ally with the Federal Government.[52]
In March 2013, a survey by Heinrich Böll Foundation showed that 29 per cent of the people surveyed would support the Pakistan Peoples Party, the highest nummain opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Another 20 per cent supported thePakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by former cricketer Imran Khan.[53]
According to a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan and PILDAT the Pakistan Muslim League (N) tops the list on voting intention score in Punjab, followed by the PTI and the PPP respectively. The February 2013 political forecast is based on a nationwide poll of approximately 9660 voters in 300 villages and urban localities. The voting intention score of PML-N stands at 63% in North and Central Punjab, 69% in Western Punjab and 49% in Southern Punjab, shows the survey. According to the consolidated findings of two nationwide polls on voting intentions, conducted by IRI and Gallup Pakistan respectively during past three months, the front runner in Pakistan’s elections scheduled in mid-2013 is the PML-N. The PTI, according to the survey, is making deep inroads in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where it has surpassed every other player by a 30 per cent score.[54]
"Pakistan Peoples Party to emerge victorious on basis of performance."
In January 2013, an online poll conducted by Public Judgement showed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would win 66.1% of the total seats with PML-N coming in second place with 29.3% of seats. This would translate as PTI winning an outright majority of 225 seats in parliament. The online poll took place over 16 days and a total of 17,013 people participated in the poll.[55]
PTI Chairman Imran Khan acknowledges sharp slide in his party’s popularity but attributes it to the party’s preoccupation with a gigantic task of intra-party elections. It took about 10 months during which the PTI almost suspended its activities. Imran is confident that the PTI will rebound soon for which a series of rallies has been planned beginning with Peshawar on March 10 on conclusion of elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP). On March 23, a massive rally is planned in Lahore which will also be attended by about 80,000 elected members at union council level across the country.
Senior Pakistani Political analyst Najam Sethi said, Nawaz Sharif held public meetings and rallies in every nook and corner of the country whileShahbaz Sharif completed development projects in Punjab which attracted politicians from the other parties. Sethi said that the three percent raise in the popularity graph of the Pakistan People’s Party was made possible due to Asif Ali Zardari’s efforts who gathered many such politicians as used to oppose him. He said the popularity of both the parties increased due to the revival of the traditional politics and the same was the cause of decrease in popularity of unorthodox politicians like Imran Khan. However, Imran Khan’s next public meetings would help him a lot, Sethi predicted, saying that the PTI leader’s graph would go up after public rallies in Lahore and Peshawar and the party would play an important role in formation of the next government.[56]

Support based on generation gap [edit]

The survey’s findings indicate that the PTI’s support is derived from all age groups – 22.9 per cent of those between 18 to 35 years, 18.6 per cent of those between 36 to 50 years, 18.4 per cent of those between 51 to 70 years and 7.7 of those above 70 years support the PTI, dispelling the notion that its vote bank is rooted in the younger generation. The highest proportion of those aged between 36 to 50 years (32.5 per cent) indicate a preference for the PPP. Similarly, 46.2 per cent of those aged over 70 expressed a preference for the PML(N). Compared with respondents’ voting histories, the PML(N)’s vote bank appears to have remained stagnant while the PPP’s seems to have declined significantly. It appears that the PTI has a stronger urban base, while a higher proportion of rural respondents indicated that they would vote for either the PPP or the PML(N) in the upcoming elections.[57]

Voting trends by ethnicity [edit]

Predictably, the highest level of support for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party was pledged by Sindhis, 55 per cent of whom said they would vote for the PPP in the upcoming elections. This was followed by Seraiki-speakers at 46 per cent. Forty-four per cent of Hindko-speakers said they intend to vote for the Pakistan Muslim League (N), closely followed by Punjabi people at 43 per cent. The same proportion of Hindko-speakers – 44 per cent – also expressed an intention to vote for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, indicating a close contest between the two parties (PMLN and PTI) within that particular demographic. It is worth noting that while 34 per cent of Pakhtuns stated that they would vote for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, only 11 per cent expressed support for the Awami National Party (ANP). 47 per cent of Balochis said that they would vote for the Balochistan National Party.[57]

Support based on household income [edit]

On average, approximately a third of those earning up to 30,000 rupees each month indicated a preference for the Pakistan Peoples Party whereas, among those earning more than 30,000 rupees, support for the party dropped to 10.8 percent. This is in keeping with the party’s traditional pro-poor image. No such trend could be determined for the Pakistan Muslim League (N), whose level of support remained similar across all income levels. Those earning in excess of 250,000 rupees each month (the highest identified income bracket in the survey) expressed the maximum intention to vote for either the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) or the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, at 33 per cent each. While this figure may appear anomalistic in the MQM’s case – support for the party within the second highest income bracket (those earning between 100,000 and 250,000 rupees each month) was only four per cent – it was possible to identify a rough direct trend between level of income and support for the PTI. In general, it appeared that support for smaller parties declined with increasing levels of income.[57]

International monitor recommendations [edit]

The National Democratic Institution have stated the elections will be a “historical transition.” An NDI assessment mission — consisting of Canada’s former prime minister Joe Clark, former Indonesian House of Representatives member Nursanita Nasution, Chatham House senior fellow Xenia Dormandy and NDI Asia programmes director Peter Manikas — released its findings at a press briefing in Islamabad after its observation of Pakistan’s political framework.
The mission visited Pakistan from December 16 to December 21 and met with election authorities, government officials, party leaders, media and citizen monitoring groups. Joe Clark commended the cooperation of all parties, especially in adopting measures to bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas under the political umbrella. Clark stated that the 18th Amendment to the constitution reflects the parliament’s integrity and commitment towards a fair democratic handover. Nursanita Nasution highlighted the need to address the rights of women in the polling process so that “fear and intimidation in high-risk areas such as BaluchistanFATAKhyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi” would not strip women of the opportunity to vote. Xenia Dormandy suggested “improving accessibility and adjusting locations” of women polling stations closer to those for men so that they could travel with the men in their families to vote. Sandra Houston, Regional Director of NDI, stated “We are impressed with the cooperation of all the stakeholders in assuring a smooth transition,” sharing that voters have been registered with Computerised National Identity Cards and biometrics including photographs where possible.[58]

European Union [edit]

The European Union offered to send its observers to Pakistan’s elections, in a bid to ensure a “peaceful, credible” vote that will be “acceptable” to all. “The EU looks forward to upcoming elections that are peaceful, credible, transparent, inclusive and acceptable to the Pakistani people,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement released after talks. The 27-nation bloc “is ready to assist by deploying an election observation mission, as a tangible sign of our support for the democratic process,” the statement added. The ministers also said they looked forward to re-energizing ties with the next government and hoped quick contacts could lead to a third EU-Pakistan summit.[59] Pakistan responded by saying it will welcome a European Union election observation mission during the forthcoming general elections.“Yes, we will welcome the observation mission”, foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said.[60]
A 110-member team from the European Union will observe Pakistan's elections. The European Union High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission, Ms. Catherine Ashton, has decided to authorize a European Union Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the elections. A member of the European Parliament will lead the 2013 EU EOM as its Chief Observer. The EU EOM team will include observers, experts, election analysts, political analysts, legal analysts, human rights analysts, media analysts and others. On the basis of special agreements with the EU, observers from Norway, Switzerland and Canada are also part of the EOM. Some members will be deployed well in advance of election day, while others will be deployed at least ten days prior to the election day.
The observers will assess aspects of the election process, nomination of candidates, election campaign, counting, tabulation, announcement of official results and complaints' procedures, and will cover pre-election preparations, election-day itself and the post-electoral period. The observers will follow the political campaign and hold regular meetings with representatives of election management bodies, political parties, candidates and civil society groups.[61]

United States [edit]

The US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olsen stated that the United States applauds democratic tendencies in Pakistan, expressing hopes that free and fair general elections would lead to peaceful transfer of authority from one civilian government to successor dispensation. Completion of the current term by a democratically elected government will be a milestone in Pakistan’s history.[62]
A U.S. delegation consisting of Senator Carl Levin, US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olsen and Armed Services Committee Senator Jack Reedvisited Pakistan on 8 January for talks with Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. The delegation stated that not only the U.S., but the world would observe the general election with great interest.[63]
The Centre for American Progress published a report called “Previewing Pakistan’s 2013 Elections” whose author, Colin Cookman, writes that the United States should work with, and not attempt to control Pakistan’s internal political processes. The report also warns that whoever wins the elections should try to resolve the problems the country faces or be prepared to face accountability. Cookman states that “only Pakistanis themselves are capable of establishing a more stable, democratic system capable of balancing diverse interest groups and effectively addressing the country’s challenges.”
It encourages the US to make efforts to support Pakistan’s democratic evolution and the success of its upcoming elections. Such efforts should include a public commitment to neutrality and respect for the electoral processes, coupled with support for an international observation mission. It also urges US diplomatic and military officials to continue to engage with a broad array of Pakistani civilian leaders and military officials, while making it clear that the United States “does not favour any specific electoral outcome and strongly opposes any disruption of the constitutional process or intervention during the caretaker period.”[64]
US officials have denied the general perception in Pakistan that the US government wants to influence the electoral process in Pakistan to bring in a friendly government. US Secretary of State John Kerry skipped a planned visit to Pakistan to avoid accusations of meddling in the May 11 elections.Spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated that the message the United States wants to send out during the election season is “we have no favourites among Pakistani politicians and we are looking forward to work with whoever is elected on May 11.” Secretary Kerry’s decision to skip Pakistan during his South Asia visit is an indication of Washington’s eagerness to maintain neutrality during the elections.[65]

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