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Electoral Behaviour

The study of electoral behavior is a result of the growth of behavioral movement in political science.
According to Milan Vaishnav, the study of electoral behavior in India is a challenging task because of size and diversity. We can also put forward the argument of Kenneth Arrow who has given ‘impossibility theorem’. In case of elections, it is difficult to determine the preference, when voters have more than 3 choices.
Still India is a interesting case study of the electoral behavior.

It is a big puzzle, why do Indians vote. And vote in such a huge numbers. And when despite voting, nothing gets translated into any concrete achievement as far as governance and development is concerned.

Mukulika Banerjee and her team has conducted ethnographic survey of Indian voters. Survey gives many interesting findings.
1] Many voters consider that act of voting is an assertion of their citizenship right and duties.
2] Elections are the time when power inversion takes place.
3] People think that it is better to choose and reject who govern them.
4] Some vote out of feeling of revenge.
5] Some vote because members of their caste or community is contesting.
6] Some vote because they think that election commission is doing great job.
7] Some feel the edifice of democracy in India will collapse otherwise.
8] Some even consider voting as their sacred duty.

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Trends in electoral behaviour

According to study, poor are more sophisticated and strategic voters than the rich. Poor people have higher dependency on government welfare provisions. They have been found to be more aware and understand the value of their vote than the educated middle classes, who vote for not anything in return but as a duty towards nation.

According to LOKNITI (a part of CDSS), we can see following trends in India’s electoral behaviour.
Caste and religion remain the major long term determinant.
Corruption and anti-incumbency does not matter.
No difference in the preferences of men & women, rural & urban.

According to Yogendra Yadav, people in India are moving from identity politics to identity plus politics.  It includes concern for identity as well as development.

The Most Important Book for PSIR

Assessment of Indian voters.

Prannoy Roy, Ashok Lahiri, David Butler in their book titled A COMPENDIUM OF INDIAN ELECTIONS show that the voting behavior of Indians is many times more mature than the voting behavior of voters in western countries.

According to M P Singh, the credit for success for India’s democracy go to the great common sense shown by ordinary voters in India. He suggests that we cannot say that verdict of any election was ever wrong. People always voter for the best possible option.

Composition of 17th Lok Sabha.

PartySeats% share of votes

17th (2019) Loksabha has 78 women members. This is the highest number of women MPs in lower house, ever.

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Sai Lavanya

The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), please update CDSS.

founded by Rajni Kothari.


Very nice and concise notes. Quite enlightening for Indian polity section of PSIR… Please post notes on recent issues of Indian polity from PSIR perspective.

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