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Voter Turnout in the Indian Election

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Voter Turnout in the Indian Election

The Indian general elections continue. To accommodate the 800+ million eligible voters, the election has been divided into seven phases. Thus far, three have been completed which account for 303 out of 543 seats up for grab in India’s lower house. Election rules in India does not allow the publication of exit polls until all the elections have concluded. Hence, we still are unclear about where the parties stand.

India’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to win another five-year term which will return Prime Minister Modi to the head of affairs. The party is being challenged by a resurgent Indian National Congress whose President Rahul Gandhi comes from a long line of Indian prime ministers. Additionally, India’s tremendous diversity has led to the dominance of regional parties in certain states which effectively have relegated one or both leading parties mentioned above.

The only indicator we have is the voter turnout. The three phases so far have brought out a high voter turnout of between 66 and 69 per cent. This is a marginal increase in the percentage of turnout since the last election in 2014 but it still represents a larger number of people voting as the electorate has obviously grown.

What does this turnout say about the results? The traditional wisdom of high voter-turnout is a sign of anti- incumbency, however this has been proven to be false in recent research. Further, recent research in Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala’s book, The Verdict: Decoding India’s elections suggests that the BJP and its allies performed better in seats which had a lower voter turnout.

While research seems split on this question. The general sense is the BJP will return to power albeit with fewer seats compared to the last elections in 2014 which was the best showing by a single party in the elections since 1984.

The next phase of voting will take place on April 29th and will include the important state of Maharashtra. The final phase will be done on 19th of May and the results will be announced on May 23rd.

Image Credit: CC by Narendra Modi Elections/ Wikimedia Commons

M. Sudhir Selvaraj

M. Sudhir Selvaraj writes the Weekly Security Brief for GCN. He is a fellow with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life. His interests lie in security of religious minorities, secularism, U.S. foreign policy and politics of South Asia. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at King’s College London. He has a master’s (with distinction) in International Relations from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and graduated cum laude (with honors) from Concordia College, Minnesota with majors in Political Science and Global Studies and a minor in Business.

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