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The Myth of the Astute Voter


Published on

Business Standard 23/05/2011
N Gopalaswami, Praveen Chakravarty

Published in: News & Politics
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The Myth of the Astute Voter

  1. 1. REUTERSTHE MYTH OF THEASTUTE VOTERA close analysis of the Tamil Nadu Assembly election results shows thatthere is no marked difference in the voting patternN GOPALASWAMI &PRAVEEN CHAKRAVARTY NUMBER CRUNCH Seats % of votes polled in % of seats he party has just begun to cele-T contested in contested seats in won in brate the “intelligence” of the average Indian voter and his as- 2006 2011 2006 2011 2006 2011 tuteness in using the power of DMK 132 119 46.1 43.1 72.7 19.3the ballot to overthrow the corrupt. The INC 48 63 42.7 38.3 70.8 7.9Tamil Nadu 2011 Assembly election re-sults have acted as a catalyst for exuber- ADMK 188 160 40.8 51.7 32.4 93.8ance and revelry of the coming of age of DMDK 232 41 8.4 40.1 0.4 70.7the Indian voter and the supremacy of the Source: Election Commission of India websiteadult franchise process. terns as in the previous years according to seats won by the DMK in 2006. as is borne out in this analysis and is false- Sorry to be a party pooper but these his or her party loyalties. The mere com- In other words, in econometric parl- ly alluded to by large sections of our soci-celebrations are premature. Let’s under- presented with an option of rejecting the actor Vijkayakanth provides the expla- bination of the votes polled for the ance, holding other variables constant ety. The voter did not “punish” the DMKstand why through a series of questions DMK party for indulging in corrupt and nation for this bizarre and precipitous drop AIADMK and DMDK in the 2011 election from the 2006 election, the DMK would as it is made out to be and paradoxically,and answers: patronage politics, only three out of 100 in seats won by DMK. ensured that the alliance emerged as the have lost just four seats from the 96 seats the Congress proved to be a liability for1: In the 2011 elections, in a ballot paper chose to exercise that option. A sombre 5: In 2006, out of every 100 voters, 48 vot- winner in 87 out of every 100 seats (the it claimed in 2006. This paints a very con- the DMK as opposed to the “neutralising”that had a Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam scenario indeed. ed for the DMK, 41 voted for the All India table summarises these numbers). trarian picture to the one that our politi- impact that everyone perceived it to be.(DMK) candidate on the list, out of every 3: In the 2011 Assembly election, how Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam A further extrapolation analysis of the cal commentators would have us believe. Winston Churchill is quoted to have said100 voters, how many voted for the DMK many seats, out of every 100 seats that the (AIADMK) and nine voted for the DMDK. electoral results can lead to some startling Interestingly, this also explains why most “The best argument against democracy iscandidate? DMK candidate contested, did they win? When in 2011, the AIADMK and the conclusions: of the exit pollsters may have got their a five minute conversation with the aver-43 voters. 19 seats. DMDK came together, how many out of 1: Had the AIADMK and DMDK fought predictions wrong by predicting 100 plus age voter”. Alas, this quintessentially2: In the 2006 elections, in a ballot paper 4: In the 2006 elections, how many seats every 100 voters voted for the AIADMK independently, then the seat tally for the seats for the DMK alliance, because exit Churchillian-style tongue-in-cheek com-that had a DMK candidate on the list, how did the DMK win out of every 100 seats? and DMDK combine? DMK in the 2011 elections would have polls do not have the ability to detect the ment may continue to be true, at least inmany out of every 100 voters, voted for the 73 seats. 52 voters. been around 83 vis-à-vis 23 in actual. impact due to changes in electoral al- Tamil Nadu.DMK candidate? Three “astute” voters out of every 100 This is a telling statistic. Contrary to the 2: Had the DMK allotted fewer seats to liances and rightfully could not discern46 voters. caused DMK to lose 54 out of 100 seats vis- media portrayal of the average voter’s the Congress and contested in 132 seats any large meaningful change in voting (N Gopalaswami is the former Chief So, out of every 100 voters, only three à-vis 2006? This perplexing outcome is a scorn at DMK’s petty politics, statistics as in 2006 and the ADMK and DMDK patterns from 2006. Election Commissioner of India.(46-43) apparently qualify for this “intel- manifestation of electoral alliances. The show that the average voter was not as per- fought independently, the DMK would The 2011 Tamil Nadu Assembly elec- Praveen Chakravarty is on assignmentligent voter” description of our expert po- Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam turbed as we would have wanted him or have garnered 92 seats. Ironically, this tion results are no vindication of any quan- with the Unique Identity Authority oflitical commentators. In other words, when (DMDK) political party started by Tamil her to be and instead voted in similar pat- is not very different compared to the 96 tum leap in the average voter’s astuteness, India. These views are personal)