Why PTI suffered defeat in the first phase of KP local government elections?

PTI not only lost 50 out of 64 Tehsil chairman but also all four city mayor elections in the largest cities

The shocking defeat of PTI candidates in key city mayor elections including Peshawar and Tehsil chairman elections have forced the leadership including party chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan to look into the factors that caused this humiliating defeat.

The ruling party could not grab even a single mayoral seat out of the four. The PTI could only manage to win one tehsil in Peshawar out of six tehsils in Sunday's LG elections while the Opposition parties, particularly JUI-F, have made significant gains at the expense of PTI.

According to the initial responses and reactions of the most PTI leaders in KP are indicating that three major factors contributed in the defeat of PTI in KP Local government elections. The price hike and tsunami of high inflation, internal infighting within PTI  and wrong choices of candidates were the main reasons of this defeat.

PM Imran Khan took to his official Twitter handle to admit that his party had “paid the price” for its mistakes and wrote that he would “personally” be overseeing PTI’s LG election strategy in the second phase of K-P’s local body polls as well as those held across the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also said that tickets will not be awarded on the basis of favouritism and bribery in future as PTI faced a major setback in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local body polls due to "incompetent" people.

The PM’s tweet came in the wake of the ruling PTI suffering a major blow as the JUI-F cruised to victory with its candidate grabbing the pivotal post of the Peshawar mayor in the first phase of the local government elections held in K-P since the merger of tribal districts.

Prime Minister Imran Khan who is also the Chairman of the ruling PTI said in his tweet that “PTI made mistakes in 1st phase of KP LG elections & paid the price. Wrong candidate selection was a major cause. From now on I will personally be overseeing PTI's LG election strategy in 2nd phase of KP LG elections & LG elections across Pak. Insha Allah PTI will come out stronger”.

It is good to see that PM and other PTI leaders are admitting that party made mistakes in the first phase of KP LG elections held in 17 districts. Generally, political parties in Pakistan blame others for their defeat due to their own mistakes and wrong strategy.

PTI still making a mistake in analysing the reasons of its debacle. They are focusing on internal differences and wrong choice of candidates as the main reasons of this defeat. There is no doubt that internal party infighting did damage the party.

The wrong choices of candidates also attribute in this defeat. But story didn’t end here. It is also matter of the fact that many PTI leaders were not ready to contest elections on PTI ticket. They prefer to contest as independent candidates.

But the matter of fact is that PTI suffered humiliating defeat due to poor performance of KP and federal  governments and price hike. Some KP provincial ministers and local leaders have attributed this shocking defeat to price hike. But there is no real discussion is taking place about the performance of CM KP and provincial government. 

It seems that PM Imran Khan is not ready to accept that inflation and poor performance attributing to this defeat. He is rather focusing on wrong choice of candidates and internal differences as the major reasons of this poor result.  

Many people who voted for PTI in 2013 & 2018 general elections and 2015 LG elections are not happy and satisfied with the performance of pTI government. The people are angry because government has failed to control the inflation and improving their lives.

The gas crisis and power loadsheding also contributed in the anger. There were high hopes that PTI will introduce reforms and improve the governace. Without improving the performance of the provincial and federal governments and controling the rising iinflation, PTI might not be able to recover the lost ground in KP.

 Many PTI supporters are not happy with the CM Mehmood Khan. But PM Imran Khan wants to continue him as CM KP. The hopes of people who votes for PTI are fading now.


It will be wrong to attribute this defeat just to internal fighting and wrong tickets. The real problem is the failure of the PTI government to deliver on its election promises and pledges.

The other main factor was the over-confidence of PTI leaders. They dismissed the opposition parties including JUI-F and ANP as being permanently rejected by the voters. The party over-estimated its own strength and under-estimated the strength of opposition parties.

The party was thinking that they defeated the opposition parties in 2018 general elections with thumping victory. And people are still solidly standing behind the party. This assessment was a mistake and pay the ultimate price.

The party also heavily relied on Health cards and Ehsas programme to win over the voters. This strategy and reliance to lure voters failed. PTI ignored the party organisation and workers in last few years. Instead, the party relied on MPAs and MNAs and bureaucracy to muster support. The leadership ditched the workers and relied on electables and powerful families in different districts.    

PTI hasn’t learnt from PPP. PPP was relying heavily on Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) to win over women voters and their families through the monthly stipend and other initiatives. PPP government ignored the party organisation and diehard workers. 

But BISP failed to win it millions of women voters who were beneficiaries of this social programme to reduce poverty and to financially help the families living in abject poverty. pTI is repeating the mistakes made by PPP leadership from 2008 to 2013 while in power. PTI is not ready to learn from history so it bound to repeat them. 

The people are not happy and satisfied with the performance of both the federal and provincial governments. The voters want to see a clear change in economic policies and direction. 

They are not ready to buy the argument put forward by PTI leaders and ministers that Pakistan is the cheapest country in the world. The voters in KP have rejected this argument and send them clear message to bring down the prices or face the music.   

                                                                           Khalid Bhatti 

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