Parliamentary Chamber: National Assembly


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  National Assembly

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  16 November 1988

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the members of the National Assembly following premature dissolution of this body on 29 May 1988. General elections had previously been held in February 1985.

Background and outcome of elections:

  On 29 May 1988, the National Assembly that had been elected in 1985 was prematurely dissolved; President of the Republic Mohammad Zia ul-Haq simultaneously dismissed the Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet, declaring that the administration was corrupt and inefficient. The November polling date – exceeding the limit of 90 days following dissolution prescribed by the Constitution – was ultimately set by the President on 20 July 1988. He moreover announced that the elections would be held on a non-party basis, as in 1985.

On 2 October, however, following President Zia's accidental death on 17 August, the Supreme Court reversed the decision banning parties. Accordingly, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), led by Ms. Benazir Bhutto (daughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) and the conservative Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), headed by Mr. Nawaz Sharif, as well as a multitude of other groups, fielded some 1,370 candidates for the Assembly's 217 popularly-chosen seats. The one-month campaign was generally calm.

On polling day, Ms. Bhutto, who had waged a populist campaign, and the socialist PPP emerged victorious with a total of 92 seats to the eight-party coalition IJI's 55. The latter had made the continuation of President Zia's islamization programme the keynote of its platform. Independents and minor parties took the remaining seats.

Based on these results, Acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan asked the PPP to form a government. It formed alliances with small parties and minority groups. The new Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Bhutto (the first female head of government of a Moslem country) was announced on 4 December.

Round no 1 (16 November 1988): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 46,194,417
Voters 19,902,706 (43%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 304,097
Valid votes 19,598,609

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) 183 7,488,934 37.63
Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI) 172 5,883,298 29.57
Independents 706 3,905,340 19.62
Other parties 293 2,625,134 13.19

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) 94
Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI) 55
Independents 37
Other parties 19

  Only directly-elected members.
Plus two vacancies.

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 213
Women: 24

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Copyright 1988 Inter-Parliamentary Union