Updated Friday Jul 06 2018
Pakistani women and first-time voters are expected to be the king-makers in the 2018 elections. As 105 million Pakistani will vote on July 25 in the country’s second historic democratic transition of power, political parties are focusing on women and first-time voters who may well tip the scale in their favour.
“I want to vote, it is my right. But the process needs to be easier to understand for first-time voters,” said 22-year-old Farghana Shahid who is among the 46.73 million registered female voters in the country.
Numbers for registered women voters have increased from 2013, when the elections were last held. According to Gallup Pakistan and Pulse Consultant a higher percentage of women voters, 68 per cent and 80 per cent respectively, will be heading to the polls to exercise their democratic right. In both polls, female respondents expressed optimism that the 2018 elections would bring a positive change.
Elaine Alam, a businesswoman from Lahore, stresses on the need for women to go out and vote. “If women make up more than half of the population, and if they are not fully represented also in terms of participation in elections, roughly half the country’s citizens can be left out. That also points to the future where urban and development planning must involve women if a system is to be truly democratic and representative.”
Which party women vote for will be instrumental in addressing Elaine’s issues about the future.
Women polled by Gallup are more inclined to vote for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz over other parties with a 26 per cent preference, whereas with 24 per cent the PTI ranks a close second. A far third is the PPP, with 18 per cent of the female voter pie.
While the ranking remains unchanged, Pulse figures show the PML-N taking a bigger lead with 32 per cent of the female vote bank compared to PTI with 24 per cent and PPP with 17 per cent.
Tapping into first-time voters is another point of focus for political parties. Data from Gallup shows the PTI attracting 27 per cent of the new voter with the PML-N slightly behind with 22 per cent and PPP at 12 per cent. Those who remain undecided were the third highest in this group with 16 per cent. The Pulse survey also finds the PTI as the preferred party for this age group with 37 per cent, followed by the PML-N with 20 per cent and PPP with 15 per cent of respondents.
Note from Editor/Disclaimer: Gallup Pakistan survey conducted, May 01-June 06, 2018. Sample size N~3000 men and women. Error margin +-2 to 3% at 95% confidence level. Pulse survey conducted, May 13-28 2018. Sample size 3163. Error margin +-1.60% at 95% confidence level. Surveys and polls are not always accurate but are useful in capturing trends. Surveys and polls results change as per events and as Election Day approaches. Gallup and Pulse survey were commissioned by Jang Group Editorial Board.