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What to expect from 2018 general elections

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On July 25, Pakistan will vote a new democratic government into power. The question is, will that choice come with a new direction? A country nearly 220 million-strong looks for its answers in three key parties: Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML_N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — each with a distinct set of challenges underpinning their election prospects.

PML-N start as favourites. With Pakistan’s most populated province of Punjab as their stronghold, PML-N’s favouritism is motivated more by numbers, than by choice. It secured a provincial majority in both the 2008 and 2013 general elections and 116 of the 148 National Assembly seats in the last term. What suggests a continuation of this dominance despite rapid party divides and weakening public opinion is PML-N’s iron-grip on decisive constituencies. The NA constituencies of 57, 79, 82 and 124 — stretching from Rawalpindi to Lahore — all rest with dominant members of the ruling party since 2008. PML-N’s decision to field tried and tested candidates for the upcoming elections leaves little room for PTI and PPP to offset a historical advantage grounded in dynastic roots.

With the Avenfield verdict, PML-N is faced with a significant void in leadership. Nawaz has been the face of the party for nearly 25 years, and his dismissal was to be met with Maryam’s ascension. As a prison sentence looms for both, the party must now contemplate a vision independent........

© Daily Times