PTI, PML-N in virtual tie in Punjab, says Gallup Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: The political battle for Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous and influential province, is heating up as the latest polls show a neck-and-neck race between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

According to a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan in December 2023, the PTI has a slight edge over PML-N with 34% of the respondents expressing their voting intentions for the former, while 32% opting for the latter.

The difference of 2% is within the margin of error of the survey, which means that the two parties are virtually tied. This is a significant change from the earlier survey, when PTI had the support of 45% of voters in Punjab, while PML-N had the support of 24% of voters.

The survey results indicate that PTI has lost some of its popularity in Punjab, while PML-N has gained ground, especially after the return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

In North Punjab, PTI maintains a lead with a reasonable margin over PML-N, while the competition tightens in West and Central Punjab, where the two parties are neck and neck. PML-N appears to be in the lead in South Punjab, with PPP also enjoying substantial support in the region. Notably, TLP holds a spoiler vote in Central Punjab. Given that North Punjab constitutes 10% of the total Punjab seats, it is evident that the electoral race is highly competitive.

According to the survey, in Sindh, PPP stands as the largest political party, with PTI following closely behind.

The PPP dominates in Sindh over other parties, though its stronghold in the Karachi region is comparatively weaker than in Interior Sindh/Rural Sindh.

In KP, PTI leads but faces significant challenges due to emerging alliances.

In a December 2023 survey, 45% of respondents in KP expressed a preference for PTI. While this signifies a rise in PTI popularity compared to the 2018 general election’s 37% vote share, it is not a substantial increase. Other parties concentrate their votes in specific electoral regions, potentially securing seats despite trailing in the overall KP popular vote. For instance, JUI-F holds a significant vote share in South KP, while PML-N dominates in Hazara.

A strategic alliance among parties could pose a considerable challenge to PTI in various territories, as Hazara and South KP collectively represent nearly half of the National Assembly seats in KP.

According to the survey, regarding leaders’ approval ratings, Imran Khan leads nationally, with Nawaz Sharif closely trailing.

On a national level, Imran Khan maintains a lead in approval ratings, with Nawaz Sharif following closely behind. However, within Punjab, Nawaz Sharif takes the lead over Imran Khan. Notably, between June 2023 and December 2023, the gap in approval ratings between Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif has considerably narrowed. Nawaz Sharif’s ratings have improved, while Imran Khan’s ratings have remained relatively consistent.

The outcome of the next general election, which are expected to be held on February 8, 2024, will largely depend on the performance of the parties in Punjab.

Both PTI and PML-N are trying to woo the voters with their past performances.

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