Naveed Aman Khan
THE term of a Senator is six years but 50 percent of the total number retires after every three years and elections are held for new Senators. Elections to fill the seats allocated to each province are held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The Senate elections always depend on the party positions in the four PAs and the NA. The term-wise data of Senators shows that (PML-N) will be the biggest loser in terms of representation in the Senate as 59pc of its members, the largest number belonging to a single party, are set to retire. Out of its 29 present Senators, 17 will retire in March. PTI will become the single largest party in the Senate after upcoming elections on 3rd of March, but it will certainly not be able to gain control of the Upper House and will still have to rely on its allies and opposition parties even for carrying out simple legislation.
A calculation done on the basis of the party position in the NA and all the four provincial legislatures, which form constituencies for elections of members of the Upper House, and keeping in mind complicated voting system, shows that if all the MPAs vote strictly in accordance with party policy during elections, then the country is going to have completely hung Senate as both ruling and opposition alliances are expected to have almost exactly the equal number of seats. As many as 52 Senators will retire, 50 percent of the 104-member house, on March 11 after completing their six-year tenure.
There will be no polling for the four seats of FATA after its merger with KP. Polling will be held to elect 48 Senators, 12 each from KP and Balochistan, 11 each from Punjab and Sindh and two from Islamabad. Polling will be held to elect seven members on general seats, two women and two technocrats in four provinces. Besides this, elections on one minority seat each in KP and Balochistan will also be conducted. Ruling party will need support of both allies and opposition for legislation. When MPAs will elect Senators from respective provinces, members of NA will vote to elect a Senator on general seat and other on a woman seat from Islamabad.
PTI has already moved the Presidential Reference in SC and tabled a constitutional amendment bill in parliament seeking an open vote for the Senate. The SC is yet to take a decision on the reference, whereas opposition parties have already announced that they will not support such a move from the government at a time when elections are just days away. Whatever method is adopted for Senate polls, calculations based on party position in all legislatures reveal that if all the legislators vote in line with policy of their respective parties and according to their conscience, (PTI) is expected to win 21 seats, followed by six seats each by (PPP) and (BAP) and five by (PML-N) in upcoming Senate elections. If it happens, PTI will become the single largest party in the new Senate with 28 Senators, followed by the PPP with 19, PML-N with 17 and BAP with 13. Number of (PTI) seats can vary as the party is also set to have seat adjustment with its allies in different provinces. PTI has already agreed to allow PML-Q to nominate its one or two candidates from Punjab. If agreement materializes, PML-Q will once again get representation in the Senate after six years.
PTI is expected to sweep elections in KP where it has been ruling for the past eight years. Due to its comfortable majority in PA, PTI expects to win 10 out of 12 seats. Remaining two seats can go to opposition parties and both JUI-F and ANP have chances to win one seat each. If it happens, ANP will manage to retain its representation in the Senate as its lone and dissident member Sitara Ayaz is to retire on March 11. In Punjab, PTI is set to win six seats, including four general seats. The party is expected to get two seats from Sindh and one from Balochistan, besides winning both seats from Islamabad.
PML-N is expected to see its Senators getting elected only from Punjab, (PPP) will also get representation in the Senate this time only from Sindh, where it has been ruling since 2008. The urban Sindh-based (MQM) can easily clinch a general seat due to its 21 MPAs in Sindh Assembly. More seats for the party depend upon its understanding with PTI and GDA as both the parties are part of the ruling alliance at the Centre. It is difficult to predict the outcome of the Senate election in Balochistan due to complex politics, where even independent candidates always have a chance to win the elections due to their personal influence or alleged practice of vote buying. This time the picture is much clearer with BAP, the ruling party in the province, set to win six Senate seats. Remaining seats may be divided among JUI-F and BNP-M keeping in view their strength in the PA. ANP also has a chance to win a seat from the province with the support of other nationalist parties. The Senate, which is also known as House of Federation, comprises 104 members: 23 each from the four federating units, eight from formerly FATA, and four from the capital.
The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for minority member. Elections of NA, Senate and PAs have never been free, fair and transparent. horse trading has become routine. Legislation even couldn’t stop malpractices of horse trading. Millions of rupees are offered and demanded. What to speak of elections of Assemblies and Senate office bearers which are often brought with political engineering and bribes. Video Scandal of PTI and PPP members is enough to understand dirty politics of the country. Such members irrespective of party affiliations can’t deliver and serve the country and the nation. Since the beginning, the rulers couldn’t deliver and serve because of their personal and international agendas.
—The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.