Saturday, 11 May 2013

My Election Predictions for PTI in KPK Province

by Faisal

This blog summarizes my predictions to discuss the prospects of PTI in KPK province. They are largely based on intuition, after some discussions with locals, previous election results, and a careful analysis. Hence, they can be called an “educated guesswork." Most of my interactions with various people are coming from particular constituencies.

I will only discuss the National Assembly seat; whereas, the corresponding impact on the provincial assembly can be left open to the understanding of the readers. However, it is a common observation in KPK, that people cast votes to two different parties on provincial and national levels within the same constituency.
Key Factors

First we will analyze the various factors that will play a key role in these elections for PTI.

According to latest surveys, the literacy rate in KPK is less than 55%, whereas, PTI is heavily relying on the vote bank from more educated, urban middle and/or upper middle class. Its message to lower middle class and poor people (which currently constitute 40% of the vote bank) cannot yet be substantiated.

Urban and rural divide will play a major role in Elections 2013. PTI has a higher vote bank in urban areas, where the masses have easy access to cable TV and/or Internet. In rural areas, on the other hand, PTI is mostly banking on its 'electable' candidates which -- in some cases, such as Hazara and DI Khan, etc. -- are chosen quite cleverly. PTI may affect those regions, where Imran Khan personally conducted successful ‘Jalsas’ during the last two weeks.

As the elections are approaching, the security situation is worsening, especially in KPK and Karachi. Some parties (ANP, MQM, PPP, and JUIF) have faced the brunt of terrorist activities, and they are rightly questioning the degree of fairness of these elections. Although, it is not a ‘level-playing’ field, but, this will favour their political rivals.

Due to the security situation, the voter turnout will play a major role in the success or failure of PTI in KPK. If the Election Day turned violent, then the PTI voter will prefer to sit at home. According to my rough calculation, if the turnout goes beyond 55-60 percent, it will directly benefit PTI. Let me admit that there is a visible street support for PTI in KPK, but it is yet to be seen how much it is translated into electoral success. However, I strongly believe that constituency-based politics can badly dent PTI's chances of attaining a sizable number of seats.

KPK is perhaps the only province in Pakistan that can readily accept the notion of change. In 2002, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) came from nowhere to sweep the elections. Then, in 2008, the leftist liberal parties turned the tables on the incumbent MMA government. Based on these observations, the analysts are claiming that KPK is PTI’s best chance.

I present two extreme-case scenarios for PTI in KPK. Here is the best case scenario:

Best case scenario

KPK can be easily divided into four different parts: southern, central, northern, and Hazara regions; consisting of 36 NA seats.

In southern KPK, DI Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Hangu, and Karak constitute seven NA seats. In DI Khan, PTI's best chance is from the city seat (NA-24), but it will face tough competition from Maulana Fazal and PPP candidates. On the other seat (NA-25), the current PTI candidate (Mr. Dawar Khan Kundi) got around 40,000 votes in 2008, and he can give good competition to JUI-F. In Karak (NA-15) and Kohat (NA-14), PTI looks better due to local support and better candidates. In Hangu and Lakki Marwat, JUI-F looks more favourable, whereas, Lakki Marwat should see a narrow competition between JUI-F and PML-N.

Consequently, in Southern KPK,

More favorable seats for PTI= NA-14, NA-15, NA-24, NA-25 (four seats)

Less chances = NA-16, NA-27, NA-26 (three seats)

In central KPK, there are 13 NA seats. In four seats of Peshawar, NA-1 to NA-4, the more assured seat for PTI is NA-1, due to Imran Khan contesting himself. But he is expected to face tough challenges from ANP's Ghulam Bilour and JI candidate. Remaining three seats will see a stiff competition between ANP, PPP, JUI-F, and PTI. In the best case scenario, PTI may win three out of four seats. In two seats of Nowshera, PTI seems slightly ahead of Luqman Qazi of JI and other candidates of ANP and PPP on NA-5. Other seat has a mixture of various candidates. There are minimal chances for PTI to win both seats in Charsadda, that should go to ANP and/or Aftab Sherpao. In Mardan, JUI-F is looking very strong at the moment, but it will face tough fight against ANP, PMLN and PTI. ANP has done many development projects in Mardan, but the public opinion is against it, due to allegations of corruption and anti-incumbency. However, due to a huge Jalsa in Mardan, PTI may pick up one seat out of three. In Swabi, PTI has no chance in NA-12, as it should go to a very strong local coalition (Awami Jamhoori Ittehad) set up against ANP. On NA-13, however, PTI's Asad Qaisar may surprise ANP.

Consequently, in central KPK,

More favorable seats = NA-1, NA-2, NA-3, NA-5, NA-6, NA-11, NA-13 (seven seats)

Less chances = NA-4, NA-7, NA-8, NA-9, NA-10, NA-12 (six seats)

In northern KPK, there are eight NA seats. The NA-28 seat from Bunair has more chances for ANP, Aftab Sherpao's QWP, and JI, as compared to PTI. In Swat, however, PTI is enjoying strong support from the family of Wali-e-Swat, as well as, it has some local vote bank. As a result, it may grab NA-29 and NA-30. The NA-31 seat of Shangla may again go to Engr. Amir Muqam, who has now joined PMLN. Similarly, PMLN looks strong in NA-32 Chitral against JUI-F and PPP candidates. At both seats (NA-33, NA-34) of Dir, JI is set to win against PTI, ANP, and QWP. But, PTI has some chances in NA-34. In NA-35 of Malakand, PPP candidate Lal Muhammad Khan may win again.

More favourable seats = NA-29, NA-30, NA-34 (three seats)

Less chances = NA-4, NA-7, NA-8, NA-9, NA-10, NA-12 (six seats)

In the Hazara region of Haripur, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kohistan, and Battagram, there are seven NA seats in total. On five of these seats (NA-17 to NA-21), PTI has fielded strong electable candidates. However, it is facing stiff challenge from PMLN and JUIF. On NA-22 and NA-23, JUIF and/or JI may win over PMLN and independent candidates.

More favorable seats = NA-17, NA-18, NA-19, NA-20, NA-21 (five seats)

Less chances = NA-22, NA-23 (two seats)

Out of 36 mainland KPK seats, it can be predicted that PTI may win around 19-22 seats, as of now. Of course, a lot depends on the election-day politics, especially the turnout.

Worst case scenario

There is a fair chance of a low turnout in KPK, especially if the security situation worsens on the Election Day. This will directly impact PTI chances in KPK. In the worst case scenario, in southern KPK, PTI may only win from Kohat and Karak. In central KPK, PTI may only end up winning in NA-1 and NA-5. In northern KPK, only NA-29 from Swat has better prospects; whereas, in Hazara, PTI has a fair chance of winning at least two seats.

If we only consider 36 NA seats of mainland KPK, PTI may end up winning only five to seven seats in a worst case scenario.

-the writer is a PTI supporter
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