As political campaigns heat up ahead of the upcoming general elections, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) star seems to be on the rise. According to a survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), the main opposition party’s popularity has increased both on the national and provincial level.
The recently released survey was conducted in November last year on a sample of 4,997 people. The sample was proportioned according to country’s demographics, in terms of age, gender, income, literacy and linguistic background. Participants were interviewed face-to-face.
Among the questions put forth by the interviews, participants were asked which party they would vote for if elections for the National Assembly (NA) were held a week following the interview. Similar questions were posed for each of the country’s provincial assemblies. The data gained was then compared to an earlier survey conducted between July and August last year to identify popularity trends.
According to the report, 32% of the respondents said they would vote for PML-N in the NA elections, compared to 28% in July-August 2012. In contrast, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) popularity remained stable at 14%. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which appeared the most popular party at the national level following PML-N, saw a decrease in support from 24% in July-August 2012 to 18% in November 2012.
Similarly, PML-N remained the most popular party in Punjab according to the survey with 49% support – a 6% increase compared to the previous survey. In comparison, PTI, which remains the second most popular party in the province with 19% support, registered an 8% decrease in popularity.
While the IRI report revealed PML-N to be the next-to-least popular party in Sindh, it showed the main opposition party’s support in the province rose to 8% in November 2012 from 6% in July-August 2012. Although the ruling PPP still remained the most popular party in the province with 32% support, its popularity declined by 7% from 39% in July-August 2012. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), meanwhile, registered itself as the second most popular party in Sindh with 16% support, a 5% increase from its standing in previous survey.
PML-N’s popularity increased by 3% in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to an overall 12%. PTI, however, remained the most popular party in the province with 32% support – a 2% increase from its support in July-August 2012.
In Balochistan, PML-N’s popularity increased by 5% to an overall 13%. Meanwhile, PTI lost its spot as the most popular party in the restive province to PPP due to 9% decrease in popularity. Concurrently, the ruling party registered a staggering 13% increase in popularity in Balochistan.
New province in southern Punjab
The IRI report revealed 41% of the respondents ‘strongly opposed’ to the creation of a new province in southern Punjab. In comparison, 21% of the respondents ‘strongly supported’ the creation of the province while 14% ‘somewhat supported’ the move.
Meanwhile, a majority of the respondents identified inflation as the most pressing issue facing Pakistan. According to the report, 32% of the survey participants picked inflation in response to the question. In contrast, 20% selected unemployment, 13% selected electricity and water, 10% selected terrorism, 7% selected corruption and only 5% selected poverty as the most pressing issue faced by the country.
Asked to rate the country’s institutions favourably, 40% of the respondents expressed a positive response to the NA. Around 37% rated the opposition favourably while 26% rated the incumbent government favourably.
In response to a question regarding their likelihood of voting in the upcoming elections, 75% of the respondents said they would definitely participate in the polls.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.