Pakistan Parliament consists of two houses i.e. Senate Pakistan and the National Assembly of Pakistan. Senate makes the upper house of parliament and National Assembly makes the lower house of Parliament. To constitute parliament, there are two types of election processes conducted. In the lower house also called National Assembly, representatives are elected by general elections. Every adult person with a minimum age of 18 years elects these representatives directly through these elections. Senate elections are different and complex from general elections. What is the upper house? When it was made? How do senators get elected? What is STV? We will discuss this below.
General Elections Process and its Drawbacks
The National Assembly election process is simple. We can understand it through an example. For instance, suppose the total number of voters in a constituency is 500,000, and 8 candidates are there in that constituency. If 1st candidate of them gets 120,000 votes, 2nd gets 70,000, 3rd gets 60,000, 4th one gets 50,000 and the remaining 4 candidates get 25,000 each.
Thus, 400,000 votes were conducted, and 100,000 adults didn’t participate in the election process. So, in this system 1st one who got 120,000 votes, he would be declared the winner. Moreover, the remaining ones would be considered losers. Their votes wouldn’t be able to give them any representation in the National Assembly. It means the candidate who received only 24% of the votes got representation, while 76% of voters didn’t come in any representation.
This is the drawback of this system. The election process of the senate is far different from it. In the Senate elections, the public doesn’t cast vote directly rather public-selected representatives of the Provincial and the National Assembly elect the senators.
Why there was a need for the Senate?
Before the Senate, there was only one house, National Assembly. In it, seats were distributed among the provinces on a population basis. The provinces which had more population had more seats in the National Assembly and the provinces which had less population had less representation.
Currently, the number of seats in the National Assembly is such that the total number of MNAs in the province of Punjab with a population of 110 million is 183. And, the number of members in the province of Balochistan with a population of 20 million is only 17. It means that any political party can establish a government in the entire country by winning a huge majority in Punjab only. And this is certainly not suitable for the federation in any sense.
To solve this drawback, our country needed such a system so that all provinces can represent themselves equally. After East Pakistan’s secession in 1971, it felt more strongly that there should be a system that can represent all provinces equally in the Parliament. So, in 1973, for the first time in history, Pakistan’s senate system was introduced.
The procedure for Senators’ election
As I mentioned, there is a completely different process for the election of Senators. This procedure or system is called Single Transferrable Vote (STV). A British Mathematician, Thomas Wright Hill introduced this system in the 19th century. Worldwide, Governmental and Semi-governmental institutions adopted this election system.
Example For Understanding Senate Pakistan
Assume, in a class of 40 students, a committee of 4 students is being formed to represent the entire class. And, this committee is elected by the votes of all 40 students in the class. Since the total number of students in the class is 40 and the number of elected members is only 4. So, according to this election formula, the total number of students in class and the number of candidates of the elected committee i.e. 40 divided by 4 gives 10 votes.
That is, these four students need 10, 10 votes for success, we can call this number of 10 the golden figure or votes needed to win.
Total Students in class = 40
Committee Members to be Elected = 4
Votes required to be elected = 40/4 = 10
This voting of the class will be done on a ballot paper on which the names of these student candidates will be written. They will be written in the form of a list and blank boxes will be made in front of these names. The forty students who vote for these candidates will number according to their preference in these boxes. They will put their favorite candidate first and the least favorite candidate last. Then the priority numbering of these ballot papers will decide the victory of these candidates.
Time for Selection
Suppose Student A gets 20 votes, Student B gets 6 votes, Student C gets 7 votes, Student D gets 5 votes and Student E gets 2 votes. Now here, since student A got 20 votes and 10 votes were required for success, he was elected as a member of this committee. While those 10 votes which are more than the required votes will be divided among those students who got second priority.
For example, out of ten additional votes, B was given second priority by 6 students, so he got 6 votes out of 10, making his total votes 12. Similarly, if C is given second priority by 3 students, then he will get 3 votes and his votes will become 10 and he will also be elected. Similarly, if D is given second priority by 1 student, then the remaining 1 vote will be given to D and his votes will be 6.
Thus, now B has got 12 votes in this list, while he needed 10 votes for success, then the 2 votes above him will be given to the student who got the third priority in the list. For example, if two people put D on the third preference, then both those votes will go to D. Thus D’s votes will be 8, and since under this formula if a candidate does not get the golden figure but his number of votes is more than the rest then he will be considered successful, so here D will be considered successful and in this committee, ABC and D will be selected.
As in this example, 10 additional votes of candidate A were transferred to the rest of the members and the students did not have to vote again. it means that their single vote was transferred to the second and third preferred candidates. That is why this method of election is called Single Transferable Voting or STV. In this way, the members are selected in the Senate elections of Pakistan.
Also Read: | What is Feminist Meaning in Urdu? Waves of Feminism?
Difference between Senate Pakistan and NA
- The Senate and the National Assembly are located in the same building. Besides, all the meetings of the members elected from both Houses are held on different floors in the Parliament House building itself.
- Another difference between the Senate and the National Assembly is that the National Assembly dissolves at the end of its term before general elections and is replaced by a caretaker government, while the Senate does not. The Senate cannot be dissolved under any circumstances.
- Similarly, the members of the National Assembly are elected for a five-year term while the members of the Senate are elected for a six-year term. Half of the members of the Senate retire every three years and elections are held every three years. Members who retire every three years shall retire after completing their six-year term.
- Polling for the election of senators of the four provinces is held in the four provincial assemblies while polling for the seats of Islamabad and FATA is held in the National Assembly.
- After the election of the Senate, one member is elected as the Chairman Senate and one member as the Deputy Chairman Senate from among all these successful members for a period of three years. Apart from this, it is also worth mentioning that in the absence of the President of Pakistan, the Chairman Senate is the Acting President of the country.
Also read: Iran protests 2022: All Explained
Allotment of Senate Pakistan Seats
In 1973 the total number of Senate members was 45 which was increased to 63 in 1977. Then in 1985, this number increased to 87 and in 2002 this number reached 100. Then in 2015, the number of members was increased to 104 by adding 4 minority seats.
In this house of 104 senators, there are a total of 23, 23 members from the four provinces. Out of these 23, each province has 14 general members, 4 women, 4 technocrats or ulama, and 1 minority member. Apart from these 92 senators from the four provinces, 8 members from FATA and 4 members from Islamabad are part of the Senate.
But now that FATA and KPK have been merged, the final decision of the 8 FATA seats is yet to be taken on whether they will be completely excluded or divided among the provinces.
Senate Elections 2018
In 2018, out of 104 seats in the Senate, 52 were elected. 12 senators from Punjab and Sindh each, 11 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan each, while 4 from FATA and 2 from Islamabad became part of the Upper House.
Since the total number of members of the Punjab Assembly was 371 and elections were to be held on 7 vacant general seats of the Senate from Punjab, then the total number of members of the Punjab Assembly i.e. 371 was divided by the number of elected Senate members i.e. 7 to get the golden figure. Under this formula, the number of votes required for each candidate i.e. the golden figure became 53. That is, to get a general seat from Punjab, the candidate got 53 votes.
Similarly, the total number of Balochistan assembly members was 65 and 7 senators were to be elected from there. So, the total number of Balochistan assembly members i.e. 65 was divided by the number of elected senate members i.e. 7 to get the golden figure. Here the golden figure 9 came i.e. candidate got 9 votes to get a general seat from Balochistan.
Under the same formula, the members of the Provincial Assemblies of KPK and Sindh were also elected.
Also read: Why Dollar is the King of all Currencies?
Senate Elections 2021
After 2018, these Senate elections were held in 2021. In these elections, a total of 48 seats were elected from the four provinces and the federation, in which 11 members were elected from Punjab and Sindh. 12 members were elected from KPK and Balochistan while two members were elected from the Federation.
And since the merger of FATA with KPK has been done, four members out of the total 8 members of FATA had completed their term and new senators were not elected in their place.
Moreover, you can check here all senators of Pakistan and their tenures since 1973 on the official website of the government.