Despite the 11-party opposition alliance having a majority in the Upper House, Pakistan’s ruling party candidate was re-elected as Senate chairman on Friday in a narrow margin.
Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the presiding officer, announced that Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, the candidate of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), obtained 48 votes and won the election.
The opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) joint candidate and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, could get 42 votes despite having a majority in the 100-member Upper House.
Seven votes were rejected because they were not stamped correctly, Shah said and added that another vote was rejected as it was cast in favor of both candidates.
Later, the PDM raised a question about the rejected votes and announced that they would challenge it in the Electoral Tribunal.
The opposition coalition currently has 51 senators, while the PTI-led ruling alliance has 47 senators. The country’s largest religious-political party, Jamaat-i-Islami, did not participate in the process and did not vote.
With the equal distribution of votes among the four provinces in the country, the senate elections are held after every three years by secret ballot in the National Assembly or lower house, and then the upper house elects the chairman and the deputy chairman. Senate member is elected for six years.
In the March 3 elections, the ruling party secured 16 seats out of 48. The main opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), won eight and five seats, respectively. Gilani, a PDM candidate, defeated Hafeez Shaikh, the incumbent Finance Minister.
“I am thankful to Prime Minister Imran Khan and to all members of the Senate who elected me again as chairman of this house,” Sanjrani said after taking an oath.