Islamabad, Jan 28: Political parties supporting President Pervez Musharraf "will not be in a position to get majority in the Parliament if the elections are held on February 18," Gallup Pakistan Chairman Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani said.
After the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the February 18 elections were likely "to follow the general pattern of the 1997 elections," Dr Gilani said at a seminar organised by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT). He said it was too early to predict the size of the sympathy vote and the vote bank it would cut into, but it would be crucial for the outcome of the elections.
The establishment had been "playing the role of a balancer" since the 1970s elections, he said, and had been manoeuvring elections to produce a hung Parliament. This was defeated in the 1997 elections, Dr Gilani added.
He said that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement would be predominant in Karachi in the February 18 elections.
"Sindh would remain the stronghold of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Although its advantage had been shrinking the sympathy vote might restore PPP's popularity to its earlier heights," he said.
Balochistan, with its multi-polar structure and small number of seats, would have no significant impact on the national level, and the outcome of elections in the NWFP had generally been a product of alliances, Dr Gilani added.
The Daily Times quoted him as saying that Punjab was the most unpredictable province with 80 per cent of votes split between the PPP, the PML-N and the PML-Q.
A modest edge in the province could bring "a massive swing" for a party nationally, he said.