FAFEN terms Punjab by-polls turnout ‘impressive’

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The 49.7% voter turnout in the by-election on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly has been termed “impressive” by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

“The elections on July 17, 2022 augurs well for an otherwise struggling democracy in Pakistan,” FAFEN said in its report, observing that the by-polls culminated with PML-N’s acceptance of defeat, a rare gesture that can set the stage for a thriving democracy in the country.

It said that despite reports of isolated incidents of brawls and fights, the day of election remained largely orderly and well-managed. However, the perception of quality of electoral exercise was somehow tarnished by some of the incidents overplayed by media, particularly the social media.

According to the findings of FAFEN observer report, the political environment, however, remained highly charged leading up to the by-polls.

It observed polarisation and acrimonious campaign, disregard for code of conduct for parties and candidates with impunity, increased yet uneven growth in registered voters and a welcome decrease in the gender gap, orderly and timely commencement of polling, largely well-managed conduct of polling process, need for secrecy of ballots and voters choices, facilitation of women, PWDs and transgender persons ensured, legally complaint issuance of ballots at most polling stations, isolated instances of voter’s disenfranchisement, need for improved enforcement to check campaigning inside and outside the polling stations, largely efficient and transparent counting process and provisions of result form, timely and transparent result management, largely peaceful with isolated incidents of violence.

PTI emerged victorious on 15 of the 20 seats which were vacated after its members were de-seated for voting against their party’s directions in the election for Chief Minister of Punjab.

The PTI lost four constituencies to PMLN candidates and one to an independent candidate. The FAFEN report stated that PTI had alleged foul play since the outset of the by-elections process and levelled allegations of partisanship against the Election Commission as well as other government institutions.

 

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