Pakistan Elections 2024: How Voting Works | Elections News

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Pakistan will vote on February 8 for national and state legislatures amid political fluidity and steep economic challenges.

On Thursday, 128 million Pakistanis will receive their next government in their country, as well as the legislatures of the country’s four provinces.

These are Pakistan’s 12th general elections – and the country’s latest attempt to deepen its democratic roots. Pakistan’s powerful military establishment has ruled directly for more than three decades of the country’s journey as an independent nation since 1947. And it has influenced and intervened in politics even when it was not i just in power – something that former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa recognized in November 2022.

These accusations against the involvement of the military in politics have increased in recent weeks, amid a crackdown on former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Khan is in jail, unable to contest, while the PTI has been denied the use of its election symbol, the cricket bat. But, officially at least, civilian leaders have now ruled directly for the past 16 years – the longest such period in Pakistan’s independent history.

So how will the elections work on February 8?

When, where and what to vote

Interactive_Pakistan_elections_Vote at a glance

Despite the tense campaign season for the elections, the polls will elect a government that will be responsible for bringing stability to a country torn by a volatile political landscape, increasing incidents of violence, and an economy under a disturbance

Voters also elect legislators to their regional assemblies. So in effect, each voter can cast two votes – one for the National Assembly, and another for the regional assembly.

The voting process is scheduled to begin at 8 am (03:00 GMT) and will continue, without interruption, until 5 pm (12:00 GMT). Those who are already in the queue to vote at 5pm will be allowed to vote even if it prolongs the process. If some polling stations witness violence or other disturbances, officials may extend polling to allow voters to cast their ballots.

Counting will begin shortly after voting closes, with inconclusive results expected to emerge within hours.

How are the National Assembly seats distributed?

Interactive_Pakistan_elections_2024_Understand the breakdown

Based on the results of the national census conducted in 2023, the constituencies went through a finalization process. The boundaries of many constituencies were changed, and the number of seats was changed – going down from 272 in total to 266 in the National Assembly.

The northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa saw an increase in seats from 39 to 45. Punjab, the largest region in terms of population, retained 141 seats. With more than half of the National Assembly seats, Punjab will be the biggest battleground on February 8.

Sindh, the second most populous province, and Balochistan, the country’s largest but poorest province, retained their previous seats in the National Assembly at 61 and 16, respectively.

Capital Islamabad has three seats, as it did before. In addition, 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for minorities, which are assigned on the basis of 5 percent proportional representation in the National Assembly.

What about the upper house of parliament?

Interactive_Pakistan_elections_Government structure

The Senate, the main house of Pakistan’s parliament, has 100 seats. But unlike the National Assembly, the Assembly is not directly elected. Its members are elected by the regional assemblies.

While the National Assembly has a five-year tenure, the Senate’s tenure is six years. Elections to the Senate are staggered and held every three years.

The Senate, the National Assembly and the country’s regional assemblies come together to form the electoral college, which in turn elects the president of Pakistan.

What about regional elections?

Interactive_Pakistan_elections_Regional government structure

In addition to electing the National Assembly, the assemblies of the four provinces – Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh – will elect representatives, who will then vote for the prime minister.

In terms of Punjab’s representation in the National Assembly, it also has the largest legislature with 371 seats. The Sindh assembly has 168 seats, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 124 seats and Balochistan with 65.

As in the National Assembly, some seats in the provincial legislatures are reserved for women and minorities. These are distributed proportionally to parties based on their representation in the legislature.

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