Islamabad: Days ahead of the Pakistan General Elections, top surveys in the country have concluded that undecided voters will be key in deciding the tight race between Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
A survey conducted by the Herald magazine indicates that the PTI has a lead of four percentage points over PML-N on the national level, which lies outside the survey’s margin of error of + 1.3 points, with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) trailing by a further five points.
However, the fact that indicators point towards a seven-point lead for the PML-N over PTI in the election’s primary battleground, Punjab, added with the nearly 13 per cent undecided respondents, there is little clarity as to who will form Pakistan’s next federal government.
The Herald survey, which was cited in a Dawn report, shows that while the PML-N’s lead in Punjab is outside the margin of error of + 1.9 points for the region, the lead reduces to five points in areas outside Central Punjab, which makes for over 55 per cent of the province’s National Assembly seats, and falls well within the + 2.6 margin of error. Added with the nearly 14 per cent undecided respondents in Punjab, the election battle is too close to call.
Also, trends in another online survey carried out by the Dawn, which assessed the responses of over 18,000 readers, indicates that the younger percentage of the population favoured supporting PTI and almost 60 per cent of the voters who voted in 2013 have indicated their support to vote for PTI.
Outside Punjab, the PML-N faces significant challenges as support for the party significantly falls. The 10 per cent, 11 per cent and four per cent backing the party receives from survey respondents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Sindh lie in stark contrast to the 40 per cent support in Punjab. Also, the effect that the indictment of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz will have on the support for the party remains unclear.
Meanwhile, the PTI garners support from 42 per cent respondents from KP, handing it a 30 point lead over its closest challengers in the region, the PPP, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and the PML-N.
In Sindh, almost 54 per cent of the respondents support the PPP, giving it a 40-point lead over the PTI and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA). This also makes it an important player in the elections as in case of an undecided result in Punjab, the PPP may emerge as the decider. However, urban area in Sindh remains undivided, with no political party with a clear advantage.
The situation is likewise in Balochistan, where with the PPP, PTI and the PML-N garnering between 11 per cent and 15 per cent of the support, while 8 per cent back the MMA.
Thus, the key in deciding the election will lie in swinging the favour of the undecided electoral in the country, with it being imperative for both the major players, the PTI and PML-N, to ensure a healthy turnout of their supporters in the polling booths.
The Herald survey, which was carried out from June 25 and July 12 in as many as 55 districts across Pakistan, accounts for 6,004 random respondents, with 2,848 from Punjab, 1,117 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 1,055 from Sindh and 984 from Balochistan.