ISLAMABAD: The winner is a foregone conclusion.
Mamnoon Hussain, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate, faces Justice (retd) Wajiuddin Ahmed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in today’s presidential election which is heavily tilted in his favour.
According to the PML-N’s projections, Mamnoon is expected to bag 426 votes in the 674-strong electoral college and replace President Asif Ali Zardari as the ceremonial head of state.
The Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam has 42 electoral votes. The politico- religious party has been noncommittal until Sunday, but decided to vote for Mamnoon after a late-night meeting between a PML-N delegation and Maulana Fazl.
The ruling PML-N is expected to garner the support of around eight smaller political groups, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP), Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z) and Balochistan chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.
The PML-N has 184 votes in the National Assembly, 15 in the Senate, 50 in Punjab, eight in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, two in Sindh and 17 in the Balochistan Assembly. This means the party has 276 electoral votes.
Apart from its own electoral votes, the PML-N candidate is also expected to poll 47 votes of MQM, 10 of PML-F, 17 of PkMAP, 11 of NP, five of QWP, six of PML-Q’s Balochistan chapter, 11 of independent senators and 42 votes of JUI-F.
On the other hand, PTI candidate Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed is likely to bag 63 votes that include 10 votes of its coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Since the party has no presence in the Senate and Balochistan Assembly, it will get only three votes of its ally, JI, in the Balochistan Assembly.
According to the party projections, it has 30 votes in the National Assembly, 22 in K-P, four in Punjab and one in Sindh Assembly. Similarly, the JI has four votes in the National Assembly, two in K-P and three in Balochistan.
The voting procedure is laid down in Second Schedule of the Constitution, which gives equal representation to all provincial assemblies. According to the Second Schedule of the Constitution and Presidential Election Rules of 1988, parliament – comprising the National Assembly and Senate – and the four provincial assemblies form the electoral college for the president’s elections.
The 446 members of parliament – 342 of the National Assembly and 104 of the Senate – have one vote each, while the Balochistan Assembly’s total strength of 65 is considered as the baseline for the other three provincial assemblies.
Under this formula, the number of votes cast in a provincial assembly in favour of each candidate will be multiplied by 65 and divided by the total strength of the assembly in which the votes are cast.
Since 42 seats of national and provincial assemblies are vacant, the total number of votes according to the formula is 674.
As the Balochistan Assembly is the smallest house with 62 members (three seats are vacant), votes in the three other assemblies will be divided by 62 and 5.98 MPAs of Punjab, 2.71 of Sindh and 2.0 of K-P will be equivalent to one vote.
However, 219 members of parliament and provincial assemblies – including 60 members of the Senate belonging to the PPP and its allies in the 104-member house – will boycott the process.
Similarly, 44 MNAs, 14 MPAs in Punjab, 91 MPAs in Sindh, 2 MPAs in Balochistan and eight MPAs in K-P will also stay away from the elections. According to the formula, these lawmakers form 146 electoral votes.
Those who would be boycotting the presidential elections include members of PPP, PML-Q, ANP and BNP (Awami). The Punjab chapter of PML-Q, however, has decided to go against the party line and support the PML-N candidate in the provincial assembly.
The PPP had pulled out of the race in protest against the rescheduling of the presidential election by the Supreme Court – a decision that was later endorsed by former allies ANP, PML-Q and BNP-A. The Election Commission of Pakistan had earlier set August 6 as the poll date.
Though the presidential poll outcome will prove the PML-N has numerical superiority over other political groups, the boycott of opposition parties could raise questions about the election’s credibility. The move will take the shine off the PML-N latest triumph.