THEME : ELECTORAL REFORMS TO REDUCE THE INFLUENCE
OF MONEYAND MUSCLE POWER IN POLITICS
Inderjit Singh Chahal : Vivek Sharma : Hitesh Dhiman :
Harshit Dogra : Alaukik Sexena
Electoral reform is change in electoral system to improve how public desires and
opinions are expressed in election results .It aims to strengthen the system by
bringing in changes to the existing setup.
Elections in India as we are already aware are plagued by the use of unfair means
,money and muscle power being predominant .Similar challenges were faced by
other emerging democracies like Spain , Australia , Italy, Canada , New Zealand
etc .Reforms introduced in these countries brought significant change not in only
in the electoral process and fairer and ‘actual’ representation of the opinions of
the masses but also improved the governance as whole.
The limitations and challenges that we face in India’s electoral process is mainly
due to the unnatural, inappropriate system of simple plurality or ‘first pass the
post ‘ as it is popularly known as .The results so obtained from this system are
not always true representation of the true public sentiment as is evident from the
1998 1999 2004 2009
1998 1999 2004 2009
% VOTE SHARE NUMBER OF SEATS
•The percentage vote share or the popular public sentiments isn’t apparently converted
into the number of seats as we can see from the above mentioned stats .
•For example from the year 1998 -1999 BJP’s vote share declined by1.84% but the
number of seats they won remain surprisingly same, similarly from the year 1999-2004
INC’s vote share increased by a meager 0.23% but the seat share increased by a drastic
•As the ‘marginal’ vote is of supreme importance to win, the candidates contesting the
elections ,in order to ensure this marginal vote indulge in the immoral electoral
practices , and the aspects of money and muscle come into play to ensure this very
marginal votes in their favor .
Another aspect of the FPTP(first pass the post ) system
is that the ‘marginal vote’ becomes all important ,for
example in latest Lok Sabha elections in the state of Uttar
Pradesh , 35 of the total 80 constituencies (43.75%) had
margins less than 25000 votes out of total of 15 lakh
voters per constituency .
Due to this reason the ‘tactical’ voting becomes all
important and the voter tend to vote for a candidate other
than their sincere choice in order to not ‘waste’ their vote
and is forced to choose from two ‘likely’ possible winners.
It isn’t surprising therefore that the countries with first
pass the post system has the lowest voter turnout ……
Year 1998 1999 2004 2009
Voter turnout 61% 59% 58% 58%
Voter turnout decline in the past years for Lok Sabha elections
• Proportional representation is a concept of voting system in which the number
of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportional to the number of
votes received. i.e. if 30% of the voters support a particular party then roughly
30% of the seats will be won by that political party.
Why have proportional representation :
•Proportional representation ensure that the actual public sentiment is
expressed in the election results in the form of seat allocations, as the
number of seats allocated to the political parties is a direct equivalent of their
actual approval ratings .
•It ensures both ‘actual’ majority rule and minority representation.
•Voter turnout in the countries with proportionate representation is way
higher than the countries with first pass the post system.
CORRECTIVE MEASURES :
YEAR 2010 2007 2004 2001
Australia 93.22% 94.76% 94.32% 94.85%
Spain 76.30% 75.66% 78.06% 77.05%
New Zealand 74.21% 79.46% 76.98% 84.77%
How proportionate representation helps
Value Of Assets No. Of Candidates No. Of Winners % Of Winners
Very High(5Cr and above) 343 112 32.65%
High(50 Lakhs to 5 Cr) 1592 294 18.47%
Medium(50 to 10 Lakhs) 1911 120 6.28%
Low(less than 10 Lakhs) 3964 17 0.43%
The data shows that a richer candidate is much more likely to win in our pervert
electoral system as there is a popular notion in the people that a poorer candidate
,although their sincere choice and a ‘better’ candidate, is unlikely to win and
therefore their vote will be a waste and due to which the candidates with cleaner
image are not likely to be victorious , due to the shortcomings of the FPTP system as
indicate in a recent survey from Times of India in which nearly 40% voters accepted
to have had voted for someone other than their first favorite choice only because
the popular notion was that their candidate is not likely to win.
Whereas in proportional representation a voter has number of candidates to
choose from such that, in case their candidates has too few or too many votes their
vote is transferred to their next favorite candidate
PROPORTIONAL REPERSENTATION :
MONEY AND MUSCLE POWER
•In FPTP system the marginal vote is the primary factor for the parties resorting to
unethical practices to lure in the marginal vote with the help of direct cash for vote
,freebies, forced or forged voting etc . Its not that such practices will guarantee
positive outcome for the candidates or the parties but not indulging in such practices
can cause defeat .It is morally correct but practically impossible to expect fair conduct
from the politicians when being nationalist would mean a defeat in electoral system.
•In proportional representation this very marginal vote lose its importance as such
because the bigger scenario of the overall vote percentage will be the deciding factor
and instead of a small fraction of votes .This automatically reduce the need to buy or
forge that marginal vote, which as a result will undermine the importance of money as
well as muscle power in politics.
•Since the overall vote percentage now is of significant
importance at least the bigger political parties have to look
at the important issues which are of prime importance to
the masses rather than focusing their assets to secure
the marginal vote .
Hence system by default, is insulated from
money and muscle power interference .
PRACTICAL IMPLIMENTATION AND DETAILED
•LOOPING IN RESERVATION:
•The reservation can be very easily looped in a proportionate system of
representation by reserving the constituencies as we do in the present
system as that will ensure a certain percentage going in favor of the
representatives of the reserved categories . It is mathematically impossible that they will have
their vote share less than 27%(that is the present percentage of constituencies for the reserved
categories) and therefore similar proportionate seats in their favor .
•CASE OF INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES:
•The seats won by the independent candidates (which in India have never been more than
3.4%), under the purposed system will be exempted on the whole from the proportional
system ,those seats will have their results based on the preference voting but this voting
willn’t be included in the total vote share of the political parties of the loosing candidates.
•To address the situation of overhang or underhang there are appropriate mechanisms in
the countries which are already using the proportionate system .e.g. the legislative council
in Wales add or subtract the total number of seats accordingly as the situation arise.
PRACTICAL APLICABILITY : WHY WOULD THE POLITICAL PARTIES ADOPT
TO THE PURPOSED ELECTORAL SYSTEM
•As is evident from the interpretation
of the graph that the vote share of the
bigger political parties is declining
constantly since 1984 which is about
when the fractured coalitions began
to emerge in the political atmosphere
of this country .
•As the bigger political parties are
forced to contest with their regional
allies ,they lose their vote share to that political party and since the political party itself
doesn’t contest from that region its political presence dries up slowly in the region. So there
is a very cruel fate hanging around the necks of the national political parties themselves .
More than the country ,its they who desperately need these reforms as they will be of direct
benefit to them. Good changes only happen when there is a part of pie that is there for the
political parties themselves and the country coincidentally benefits and such are the
conditions in our country now which the political parties are unable to see due to their own
*The law can easily be passed with the help of these two political parties alone and the
proposal is therefore practically applicable.
•Neutral or negative voting should be implemented and made easier by
directly putting in an option in the EVM's .
•The discloser of full criminal(if any) and financial background of the
candidates and their families should be made available to the voters at the
polling stations itself.
•With the introduction of adhar card the fingerprint identity should be made
mandatory this will n’t only keep the bogus voting in check but also will
amount of time the process takes place
•E-voting should be made available to include the middle ,educated class.
•The use of ‘totalizer’ to insure complete secrecy of the voting trend in a
region should also be made mandatory .
•To reduce the use of religion and caste as base by the candidates the voters
should only be addressed by their national identity of as people ,they can’t be
addressed by any religious ,social , ethnic or economical basses .
•The number of election commissioners should be increased so that they can
give a practical on ground presence throughout the electoral process.