Pakistan Elections: How will the cash-strapped country form a coalition government after divided election results?

Last updated: February 12, 2024, 18:20 IST

Supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ raise slogans in protest against alleged vote-rigging in some constituencies in the parliamentary elections in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (AP)

Pakistan’s hung parliament and coalition talks explained. Know the facts about the National Assembly and the government formation process

Elections held on February 8 in Pakistan resulted in a hung parliament, with no party getting enough seats in the National Assembly to form a government on its own.

Talks are being held for a coalition government between former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party with 75 seats and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s party with 54 seats. Independent candidates backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have won the most seats and are also trying to secure allies to form the government. Out of the total 336 seats in the Assembly, candidates were in the fray for 264 seats.

As Pakistan tries to form a new government, some situations are likely to emerge in the House in the coming days:

  • By law, the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, must be convened by the President three weeks after a national election. It is usually called first.
  • A new Speaker of the House is then elected, and then they call for the election of the House Leader, or Prime Minister, who must win a simple majority – 169 out of 336 seats.
  • There can be many candidates for Prime Minister. If no candidate gets a majority in the first round, a second vote is held between the top two candidates. Voting will continue until one person is able to gain a majority.
  • Once the Prime Minister is elected, he or she takes the oath and announces the cabinet. The caretaker system that has been created to oversee the elections then hands over power to the new government.
  • Parties are allocated 70 reserved seats in proportion to the number of seats won – 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims. With this, a total of 336 seats in the National Assembly were completed. Independents are not eligible for reserved seats.
  • -If independents want to get reserved seats, they will have to join another party to form a block. Independents are contesting the elections because Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was barred from the elections for violating electoral laws.

Thursday’s vote to elect a new parliament was overshadowed by allegations of rigging, unprecedented mobile phone shutdown and the exclusion of Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, from the vote. While the election winners were celebrating victory, PTI and other parties refused to accept their defeat in dozens of constituencies.

Thousands of supporters of Imran Khan and members of other political parties blocked major highways and began a one-day strike in the volatile southwest on Monday to protest alleged rigging in last week’s elections. Candidates backed by Khan won more seats than the political parties that ousted him from power nearly two years ago, according to final figures published on Sunday. However, no party got a majority, so the parties would have to negotiate on forming a coalition government. The new Parliament chooses the next Prime Minister of the country.

(with agency input)