Pakistan's ruling party wins big in upper house polls
Consolidating its grip on power, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling PML-N has won 18 out of the 48 seats being contested for in the Senate elections marred by controversies and allegations of vote buying.
Islamabad: Consolidating its grip on power, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling PML-N has won 18 out of the 48 seats being contested for in the Senate elections marred by controversies and allegations of vote buying.
According to unofficial results, PML-N got the lion's share in the polls, winning 18 seats but still has 26 senators in the in the 104-member House, one behind the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that has 27 senators.
PPP won eight seats as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, making an entry into the Senate for the first time, won six.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) won four seats. The nationalist Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) also returned to the Upper House.
With PML-N continuing to remain a minority government in the Senate, the race for the coveted slots of chairman and deputy chairman was being hotly contested and the role of smaller parties now cannot be underestimated.
Chairman Senate, the Upper House of bicameral parliament, is considered an important official figure as he works as acting president if the sitting president falls ill, goes abroad or dies.
Of the 104 members of the House, half of senators retire after three years and this year 52 senators hanged their boots after end their six year term. Elections were postponed on four seats.
According to analysts both PML-N and PPP have started efforts to get support of several minor parties to rope in at least 53 senators to get their choice of Chairman.
Currently PPP controls the senate but Prime Minister Sharif is eager to wrestle back the upper house from PPP to end any opposition to law making in the Senate which can effectively block or delay any legislation.
The Senate elections were marred by allegations of buying federal and provincial lawmakers, who indirectly elect the senators and it is feared that the race for Chairman may trigger fresh attempts of voting buying.
The Senators were elected by provincial and national lawmakers and apparently, the parties know before time how many senators they can get elected. The problem is secret balloting and the use of money to get support.
According to results, several candidates got more votes than the strength of their parties in the provincial and national assemblies, proving allegations of use of corrupt practices.
There was one big upset in Balochistan where one of PML-N candidates lost while an independent candidate won. The party has already started a probe to find who deviated from party line to vote for the independent candidate but it would be difficult as voting was through secret ballot.