105 candidates from four provinces to run for Pakistan Senate

Tue, 2018-02-20 23:21

ISLAMABAD: A total of 105 candidates from Pakistan’s four provinces will contest the country’s upcoming Senate elections. There are just 46 seats up for grabs.
According to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 33 candidates are running from Sindh, 25 from Balochistan, 20 from Punjab and 27 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The final lists of nominees from the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) are yet to be published.
Pakistan’s Upper House of Parliament — the Senate — consists of 104 members: 23 from each of Pakistan’s four provinces, eight from FATA, and four from ICT.
Each senator is elected for six years, but 50 percent of them retire every three years, and elections are held to fill the newly vacated seats. Polling for 52 seats will be held this year on March 3.
According to the ECP, four senators will be elected from FATA, 11 each from KP and Balochistan, 12 each from Sindh and Punjab, and two from ICT.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) currently leads the Upper House through its chairman, Sen. Raza Rabbani. However, 18 of its 26 senators are retiring on March 11. Only nine of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party’s 27 senators will be stepping down at that time. Given the strength of the PML-N in the Punjab Assembly, it is expected that all 12 of the senators from that province will represent PML-N, thus making it the single largest party in the Senate as well as the National Assembly (the Parliament’s Lower House).
“The PPP is in no position to retain its strength in (the Senate), despite being in power in the province of Sindh,” former ECP Secretary Kanwar Dilshad told Arab News.
Dilshad did say he expects the PPP to gain a few additional senators from Balochistan, “where it allegedly managed to oust the PML-N chief minister and help elect a new one from a minority party, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).”
He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — which currently has a total of seven senators and is the third-largest party in the National Assembly — will likely lose just one seat and is expected to gain six new senators, given its strength in the KP Assembly.
Political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais told Arab News: “If a party does not have a majority in the Senate, it cannot run the government smoothly — as (we have seen) with the ruling PML-N, (which) has to bargain with the PPP in the Senate to get business done.”
The government requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment, and a majority to pass regular legislation. Should the PML-N establish a majority in both houses, it will mean there are few barriers to its power.
The PML-N’s five-year term in government will expire on June 1. So it will have almost three months after the Senate elections in which to pass new laws.
“The ruling party will definitely make use of the Senate if it gains a majority after the (March) elections,” Rais said. “And even if the PML-N loses the next general elections, it will be able to give the (new) government a tough time with its majority in the Senate.”

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