Pakistan is a society in flux. It would be a mistake not to consider possibilities in which new factors produce alternative electoral outcomes.
If Pakistan’s elections in May were to be consistent with precedent, the center-right Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) would gain a plurality of seats in the National Assembly and be positioned to form a federal government.
Since 1988, the fundamental features of Pakistani elections have included a combination of anti-incumbency and the staying power of electable politicians, leading to an interchange of power at the national level between the two largest parties, the PML-N and its chief rival the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) (The 2002 elections were an anomaly in some respects given the high level of military interference).
But Pakistan is a society in flux, impacted by significant demographic changes, including a youth bulge and urbanization. And it is in the midst of a prolonged spell of civil violence, terrorism, and stagflation. While there could be a continuity in voting behavior in the upcoming polls, it would be a mistake not to consider possibilities in which new factors produce alternative electoral outcomes. What are some potential wild cards that could result in a partial or even complete break from electoral precedent in Pakistan?