LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is on its way to sweep the Punjab Assembly seats with a landslide win in its home province, as unofficial results show it has bagged 204 out of 297 general seats.
With such a thumping victory, the party is set to stamp its mark in the assembly without the presence of a sizeable opposition in the house and can pass legislation without any difficulty.
Unofficial results indicate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is the next major party in the provincial assembly with 20 seats, while Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid have 6 seats each.
Apart from the 297 general seats, 66 seats are reserved for women and eight for minorities, making the total strength of the house to 371 seats. Of 371 seats, 186 members are required to form a new government.
Keeping in view this trend, the PTI will get the slot of leader of the opposition in the assembly, while other parties will sit on the opposition benches. The PML-N will form the government with a two-thirds majority in the house.
This time, 41 independent candidates have also won seats and according to the law, they have to announce their affiliation with any party within 72 hours of the announcement of official results.
The history of Pakistan’s most populous province suggests that all independent candidates join the ranks of the ruling party and this trend does not seem to change this time around either.
Following the 2008 elections, there were 176 PML-N MPAs, 106 PPP MPAs and 84 PML-Q MPAs in the house. The PPP and PML-N formed a coalition government. At the same time, the PML-N successfully carved out a ‘unification bloc’ within the PML-Q which resulted in a split in the latter, one consisting of 46 MPAs who publicly supported the PML-N, while the remaining were allied with the PML-Q.
In 2011, when the PML-N forced PPP lawmakers out of the provincial cabinet, it relied on this ‘unification bloc’ to meet the required numbers of members needed to remain in power.
From 2008-2013, Nawaz Sharif’s party passed around 119 bills. PPP’s seasoned lawmakers, including Ehsanul Haq Naulatia, Shaukat Basra, Major (retd) Zulfiqar Gondal and PMLQ’s Chaudhry Zahiruldeen Khan lost their seats in the assembly for putting up opposition to PML-N’s legislation.
According to PML-N’s track record, it has the knowhow of forming factions within its major rival parties. Just as it did so with the PML-Q in 2008, it will most likely try and do the same with the PTI this time around.
The PML-N will succeed in passing local government bills on its own and in distributing the chairmanships of various standing committees to its lawmakers. Shahbaz Sharif will likely secure another term as Punjab chief minister while leading the party in the province as its president.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.
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