Pakistan’s senate election seen as a bellwether for Shahbaz Sharif

Pakistan’s senate election seen as a bellwether for Shahbaz Sharif

Today, Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect 46 of 104 senate seats in a key bellwether for the

Shahbaz Sharif

Photo: Reuters

Today, Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect 46 of 104 senate seats in a key bellwether for the lower house general elections later this year.

Pakistan’s four provinces each have the same number of senate seats, but senators’ votes are weighted by population. Punjab as the most populous state has 52 votes per senate seat from its provincial assembly while Baluchistan, the least populated, only has 9 votes. At the last elections in 2015, the governing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)—now under the interim leadership of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz—won 26 seats.

Forced to run as independents by court order in the aftermath of Nawaz’s ousting, expect the PML-N to rely heavily on Punjab to bring them the majority of their senate seats. Shahbaz has done heavy groundwork there, riding on his past as the province’s governor. Some observers project as much as a 37 seat haul which would fuel momentum for Shahbaz as the PML-N seeks another term in government in the lower house general elections in July.

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