Changing loyalties and forming new-fangled alliances ahead of elections has remained a noteworthy aspect of every general election in Pakistan. As per the multi-phase observation report meant to evaluate the free, fair, transparent and accountable election process, compiled by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), the formation of 334 political alliances, party-switching by political figures, and emerging alliances among ethnic, tribal and professional groups have been observed since January 2018 till mid May 2018.
Figure 01: STATS - FAFEN observed formation of 334 alliances from Jan to May 2018 in three phases.
Prominent local political figures are switching their party loyalties in anticipation that their parties would not nominate them in GE 2018 or the sitting representatives of their parties have not served their welfare well. A majority of the groups were breaking away from their former party affiliations to join the ruling party or the major opposition parties in their respective provinces.
MASS SHIFTING AHEAD OF GENERAL ELECTIONS 2018
In the first phase periods from Jan 01 to March 30, 2018, 169 political alliances, party switching by political figures, and emerging alliances among ethnic, tribal and professional groups were documented by FAFEN.
According to the data, more political alliances were formed in KP than in other provinces or regions. 74 alliance formations were reported in KPK, followed by Punjab (58), Balochistan and Sindh (13 each), and FATA (11).
Figure 02: STATS - FAFEN observed formation of 169 alliances in First Phase (Jan to Mar 2018).
The report says that a province-wise analysis of the change in political loyalties shows that the majority of political figures in KP are either joining Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or Awami National Party (ANP). likewise, in Punjab, such individuals are either joining the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) or PTI, while in Sindh, these political figures are announcing their alignment with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) or Pakistan Muslim League – Functional (PML-F). In Balochistan, such trends were difficult to examine.
In the second phase ranges from April 01 to April 30 2018, 99 political realignments or shifting of political loyalties were observed.
Nearly half (49) of these alignments and alliances were reported from Punjab followed by KP (25), Sindh (18), Balochistan (four) and FATA (two), while one nation-wide alliance of political parties was reported.
Figure 03: STATS - FAFEN observed formation of 99 alliances in Second Phase (April 2018).
During April 2018, the province-wise analysis of shifts in political affiliations shows that the ANP gained the most in KP. In Punjab, PTI benefitted the most from party-switching with 25 political groups or leaders, mostly belonging to the PML-N, joining PTI. In Sindh, PPPP, PTI and PSP were favorite destinations of political leaders switching their parties. In Baluchistan, a PML leader announced joining newly-formed BAP while another leader of the party turned to PTI. In FATA, an independent candidate joined PTI while a PML-N leader turned to PPPP.
In the third and relatively shortest phase from May 01 to May 15 2018, FAFEN observers reported a total of 66 political realignments or shifting of political loyalties in 34 districts across the country.
The majority of these incidents of political-switching and alignments (36) were reported from Punjab, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (13), Sindh (10), Balochistan (4) and FATA (3).
Figure 04: STATS - FAFEN observed formation of 66 alliances in Third Phase (May 01- Mid May 2018).
This phase’s province-wise analysis of changing political affiliations shows that the PTI gained the most in Punjab during the first fortnight of May. On the other hand, the ruling PML-N received political leaders from the PTI, the PML and the PPPP in four places. Similarly, a PML-N leader joined the PML; while an independent politician joined the TLP.
ALTERING AFFILIATIONS IN MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES
Province-wise new mergers and shifting loyalties among major political parties in first half of 2018 are as follows:
In the first half of the year 2018, 62 affiliations from different parties have joined PTI followed by PMLN with 27 and PPP with 10 joinings.
Figure 05: PUNJAB - Shifting of Loyalties from different parties into PTI, PMLN and PPP.
KPK shows relatively less shifting of loyalties and again benefitted PTI most with 20 new alliances followed by PPP with little margin and then PMLN with only one joining.
Figure 06: KPK - Shifting of Loyalties from different parties into PTI, PMLN and PPP.
PPP benefitted most in Sindh with 09 joining of new alliances followed by PTI with 06 and PMLN with no alliance.
Figure 07: Sindh - Shifting of Loyalties from different parties into PTI, PMLN and PPP.
Balochistan showed only one joining each in PTI and PPP and none in PMLN.
Figure 08: Balochistan - Shifting of Loyalties from different parties into PTI, PMLN and PPP.
The data for former FATA (now merged with KPK) reveals 03 new alliances with PPP followed by PTI (2) and PMLN only one.
Figure 09: FATA - Shifting of Loyalties from different parties into PTI, PMLN and PPP.
Every election marks this mass varying associations or swing of political figures from one party to another to protect their political interest. However, this does not ensure the maximum benefit to the party gaining more or to the party losing these affiliations. On the contrary, the actual battlefield remains the Punjab suggesting more engineering in associations, followed by KPK, Sindh and Baluchistan. PTI attracts more loyalties once devoted to PPP and PMLN both in Punjab and in Sindh. Though, PMLN seems faced more defeat in terms of affiliations loss followed by PPP. The data also suggested PTI a hotspot for most of the dissenting or aggrieved members to join the floor against their respective party in other provinces as well.
The thumb rule is parties with more assets and puissance attract more candidates to run off of their loyalties and benefit in achieving the highest aim of gaining the power.