ISLAMABAD - The race has begun for election on 52 Senate seats going to be vacant after completion of tenure by half of senators on March 11 this year as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday issued the schedule fixing March 3 as polling day for the upper house.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which currently enjoys majority in the Senate will shed 21 out of its 40 senators including Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Senate followed by Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) whose eight out of 16 members in the upper house will be retiring on March 11.
Awami National Party (ANP) will suffer the most by losing six out of 12 senators at a time when it has no sizeable majority in National Assembly and provincial assemblies to re-elect its heavy-weight senators including Afrasiab Khattak and Haji Adeel among others who would be completing their tenure.
Each provincial assembly will elect 11 senators with seven on general seats, two women, one seat for technocrats and ulema. Besides, four senators from Fata and two seats from Islamabad will also fall vacant.
According to the formula, 52.5 votes would be required in Punjab Assembly for electing a senator on general seat where PML-N has a handsome chance to grab maximum votes keeping in view its 312-member strength in 371-member house.
By this formula, PML-N can elect nearly six senators on general seats. According to experts, it can also win two women seats and a technocrat by having majority in the provincial assembly as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) having 30 seats has boycotted attending any session of the provincial assembly.
PPP having a total strength of eight members in Punjab Assembly will not be able to reclaim the senators in Punjab that will be retiring in March.
But in Sindh where PPP rules the province and enjoys 91-member strength will clinch maximum seats in Senate .
According to the formula, Sindh Assembly would cast 24 votes to elect a senator on general seats which means that PPP having 91 seats can easily elect three senators on general seats, besides electing a woman and a technocrat seat for having majority .
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) can add three senators to its strength in Senate and even a reserved seat for technocrat in case it enters a voting alliance with Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) which has 11 seats in Sindh Assembly.
In Sindh Assembly, it depends on PML-F to enter into alliance with any party for grabbing Senate seats. PML-N with eight votes in hand in the provincial assembly does not have a chance to elect any senator from Sindh.
But in Balochistan Assembly where nine votes are required for electing a senator, PML-N has a good chance to clinch some senators with 22 votes in hand followed by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) having 14 seats and National Party (NP) having 11 seats. The three parties are allied parties.
Political observers are of the view that it is still not clear as to which party - PML-N or PPP - would emerge as majority party in the upper house although they predict that PML-N enjoyed greater chances of ruling the Senate by taking in confidence its allies in the upper house.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI being the ruling party can ensure its maiden entry to Senate where 17.5 votes would be required for electing a senator. PTI has 56 lawmakers in KP Assembly which means it can elect three senators on general seats and two reserved seats.
But experts believe that alliance between PML-N (14), JUI-F (17) and Qaumi Wattan Party (10) in KP Assembly can also field joint candidates against PTI to clinch some seats. The total strength of these parties is 41 in the provincial assembly.