Historic turnout in 1970 elections with 57.96 % voter turnout

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Historic turnout in 1970 elections with 57.96 % voter turnout

ISLAMABAD, Jan 22,2024: The highest turnout in Pakistan’s electoral history was recorded during the 1970 elections in which 57.96 percent of eligible voters exercised their right to vote.

Though Gallup Pakistan puts the figure at 61 percent and the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) claims the figure was a little over 63 percent.

Similarly, the lowest turnout was 35.4 percent in the 1997 general elections.

There were 56,941,500 registered voters in the December 7، 1970 election, in which 300 of the 313 National Assembly seats were contested and 151 seats were needed for a majority.

These were the first direct general elections since 1947 and the only elections held before the tragedy of 1971. The voting took place in 300 constituencies, of which 162 were in East Pakistan and 138 in West Pakistan.

A further 13 seats were reserved for women (of which seven were in East Pakistan and six in West Pakistan), to be elected by members of the National Assembly.

The major parties arose were Awami League and Pakistan Peoples Party.

The Awami League won 160 of the 162 general seats and all seven women’s seats in East Pakistan, winning an absolute majority.

The PPP won only 81 general seats and five women’s seats, all in West Pakistan. While the Awami League won 12,937,162 popular votes (39.20 percent), the PPP won the support of 6,148,923 voters (18.63 percent).

In a newspaper article dated 7 November 2022, President PILDAT Ahmad Bilal Mahboob said: “Although Pakistan started adult franchise elections properly in 1970 as the first general election.

At just over 63 percent, voter turnout in subsequent general elections was unmatched.

Since 1985, voter turnout has seen several fluctuations with the lowest turnout experienced in the 1997 general election being 35.4 percent.

Fortunately, we saw some improvement in voter turnout in 2013 when it reached 53.62% but this momentum could not be sustained in the 2018 elections as the turnout dropped slightly to 51.5%.

“Pakistan does not compare well with other countries in the world on the state of voter turnout.

The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance puts the average global voter turnout since the 1940s at about 76 percent, far higher than the 45 percent average turnout in Pakistani elections.

Out of 169 countries whose data has been compiled, Pakistan is sadly ranked 165th.

On December 26, 2023, “The Diplomat”, an international online news magazine covering politics, society and culture in the Indo-Pacific region, wrote: “Over the years, Pakistan has averaged 41 percent Voter turnout has seen variations across election cycles. In the 2018 general election, 51 percent of the country’s voters exercised their right to vote. In 2013, it was slightly higher than 53 percent.

According to Gallup Pakistan Electoral Data, the highest ever turnout was in the 1970 general elections with 61 percent voting, and the lowest in 1997 with only 35 percent voting.

Meanwhile, with population growth over the years, the country has seen a steady increase in the number of registered voters.