A look at the balance of parties in Pakistan’s National Assembly, where governments are formed by the prime minister who commands a majority of at least 172 of the 342 seats:
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP): The party of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. A close U.S. ally and secular party, the PPP has governed for nearly three years of a five-year term since the last election. It holds 127 seats in its own right, and 163 with the support of 5 minor parties and 15 independents.
Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N): It holds the second largest number of seats in parliament – 91. There are questions about whether it wants to form a government in the current turbulent environment or has sufficient support among other opposition lawmakers.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM): An ethnic secular party and a rival of the PML-N with which it will now share the opposition benches. The defection of MQM’s 25 lawmakers cost the coalition government its majority, but there is no suggestion that the MQM would support an PML-N-led coalition government. The MQM is the fourth largest party.
Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI): An Islamist party that wields more influence than its representation of eight lawmakers in the National Assembly would suggest. JUI in December defected from the coalition after one of its Cabinet ministers was sacked and has refused to return unless the prime minister is replaced.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q): An opposition party with the third largest number of seats – 50. The PML-Q supported former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who was forced to quit the presidency by his replacement, Zardari. The PML-Q has left the door open to joining a PPP-led coalition if the government does more to solve the country’s problems.
Only 340 seats are currently filled, with two by-elections pending. One of the vacant seats had been held by a PPP-supporting independent and the other had been held by PML-Q lawmaker.
Based on information supplied by Pakistan’s National Assembly.