By-polls or tracking poll?

"With the PTI gradually losing its popularity in Punjab and the rest of Pakistan, and PML-N being the tried and tested party, the PPP may earn Punjab's votes in the next general elections"

Our society is political, and by political means elections, by-elections, election campaigns, electable candidates, rigging, etc.

The dullest period in our country post-election year, when a new government is trying to build-up its hold on governmental affairs, and the opposition is soul searching after the election defeat. After the one-year honeymoon, both sides are again in the usual arena challenging each other politically, and apolitically.

When politics is in the blood of every first or second person in our part of the world, how can the media be immune to political games. Most of the time, our front page is a full-time political commentary. That does not mean that the back page will be all about apolitical affairs. Politics run from the front page till the last line of the last page.

Recently, the much-awaited by-poll for NA-133 saw its thrilling conclusion. Thanks to the PPP’s lively electioneering, which made the competition worth watching. Shaista Pervaiz Malik of the PML-N won the election, as was being predicted. The constituency is considered to be a stronghold of the PML-N. Although the PML-N candidate won the elections, this time the vote count in favour of the party was much less than 2018. PPP candidate Chaudhry Aslam Gill, however, polled six times more than his party did in 2018. These results show a significant increase in the vote count of PPP in Punjab. The PTI candidate’s nomination papers were rejected on technical grounds so the election was a battle between the PML-N and the PPP.

The results provided spice for TV talk shows and political commentators for newspapers.

There has been a debate ongoing everywhere from a roadside dhaba to plush drawing rooms on the results. Results show that PPP’s popularity has significantly increased in Punjab as its candidates received 400% more votes than it did in 2018. On the other hand, PML-N’s vote count dropped by a half. These results signify that PPP is gaining popularity in Punjab. In the previous elections, the PPP lost many of its votes and its voter base in Punjab had significantly decreased. These results come as a fresh start for the centre-left party. This may even suggest that the PML-N is losing its stronghold in its most popular province.

The by-poll highlighted the bright or black side of social media too.

Before the elections, however, videos surfaced on social media where the PPP was blamed to have been bribing people in order for them to vote for the party’s candidate. Similar videos also highlighted the PML-N’s part. The videos have gone to the court of the Election Commission of Pakistan. We are curious to see the verdict. Moreover, since PTI’s candidate was denied the opportunity to contest elections, people may have chosen the next best alternative which they believed was PPP after being ruled by PML-N for decades.

If the voter turnout is taken into account, it can be analyzed that the results could have been different if more than 18 percent of the voters showed up. Like the PPP claimed, if the PTI candidate was allowed to contest the election, it was more likely for the PPP candidate to win as the PML-N candidate would have gotten fewer votes. This by-election result shows that the PPP may be gaining some power in Punjab. With the PTI gradually losing its popularity in Punjab and the rest of Pakistan, and PML-N being the tried and tested party, the PPP may earn Punjab’s votes in the next general elections.