By Nick Macfie
ISLAMABAD, May 16 (Reuters) - Pakistan Prime Minister-elect
Nawaz Sharif won enough seats in Saturday's parliamentary
election that he won't need to form a coalition with other major
parties to push through badly needed reforms, final figures
showed on Thursday.
Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 124 of a
total 272 seats, with its nearest rival, the Pakistan People's
Party (PPP), winning 31, in the country's first democratic
handing over of power since independence in 1947.
To achieve the required majority of 137, he need only secure
support from a handful of like-minded independents.
The outgoing PPP-led coalition, formed after the previous
election in 2008, faced continued threats of defections when it
confronted unpopular decisions, part of the reason for its lack
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the party led by former cricketer
Imran Khan, took 27 seats, making it Pakistan's third-largest
party. It held just one in the last election.
The new government will have its hands full with problems
ranging from chronic power shortages, a near-failed economy, a
Taliban insurgency and building relations with the United States
and arch rival India.
"Top-most amongst these challenges include external support
to avert a balance-of-payments crisis, carrying out difficult
structural reforms, and balancing diplomatic relations with the
U.S.," Moody's Investors Service said.
"The new government will inherit the effects of overall
policy inertia. And it is uncertain as to whether it will use
its power to adopt policies that will help shore up a weakening
external payments position and reforms that would boost economic
growth," Moody's said.
"It is worth noting that the previous civilian government
which served out its full term had been unable to come to grips
with these same challenges."
There will be recounts or re-polling in 11 constituencies
where there were "law and order" concerns, accusations of vote
rigging or, in two seats, deaths of candidates, the Election
Commission said, adding that the polls had been the most
successful in the country's history.
Khan, recovering in hospital after a fall from a fork-lift
taking to him an election campaign podium, has given the
commission three days to investigate vote rigging, failing which
his party would launch protests across the country, media said.
But accusations of vote rigging were the norm, commission
deputy director Khurshid Alam said on Thursday.
"In 2008, there were more than 300 complaints. This time,
there were only 53," he said. "This election is the most
transparent and good."
(Editing by Robert Birsel)