ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan Elections - I

More Rejection, Less Election

Not since the 1970 elections have the people of Pakistan turned out in such great numbers to vote. Two differences are notable, however. First, while in 1970 they voted the Pakistan Peoples Party to power, this time they came out in droves to boot it out. And second, while 1970 was a time of great hope and optimism, this year their cynicism was palpable even as they voted. This was understandable as all the main contesting parties appeared committed irrevocably to the same market liberalism that has characterised Pakistan's governments for the last three decades. In the end, people followed the only path open to them in most democracies: vote the incumbent out, even if the alternatives promise more of the same!

The 11 May elections boasted a voter turnout that was remarkably high in the context of Pakistan. Whereas recent elections saw turnouts of 30-40%, according to the Election Commission this one involved the participation of 60% of the electorate. Even if we discount this number in view of allegations of significant rigging, the overall participation level is still extraordinary. This is particularly curious given the absence of any significant ideological or policy differences across the main parties. In other words, why should 60% of the electorate bother to come out when there is little choice across the spectrum and little hope on offer?

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