April 06, 2016

Nudging the voter in one direction?

Nuances of having simultaneous state and national elections explored in this article by Praveen Chakravarty that appeared in the Hindu. He says, "simultaneous elections for State Assemblies and Parliament can have a tangible, and perhaps undesirable, impact on voter behaviour".


"It is a widely held belief among political observers and politicians that the Indian voter is astute and distinguishes between voting for her State government vis-a-vis the national government. As with most such electoral narratives, this too is devoid of any evidence. Our analysis shows that on average, there is a 77 per cent chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the State and Centre when elections are held simultaneously...In 16 cases of simultaneous elections between 1999 and 2014, cumulatively 302 million voters expressed their choices across 2,601 Assembly constituencies in six States. In 77 per cent of these constituencies, the winner came from the same political party. In other words, when handed two ballots at the same time to choose their representative for both Parliament and State Assembly, voters chose the same party in 77 per cent of the cases...

Contrary to the popular notion that the average voter is acutely discerning of the difference between voting for her State representative and national, there is very little actual evidence of it. If any, as our analysis shows, the ability or willingness of the voter to vote differently is only decreasing with time. To determine a truer impact of concurrent elections on voter behaviour, we analysed six cases during this same period when Parliament elections and State Assembly elections were held separately but within six months of each other. That comprised 1,131 Assembly constituencies and 155 million voters. In 61 per cent of Assembly segments, the voters chose the same party for both Parliament and State, down from 77 per cent when elections were held at the same time...

We readily acknowledge that in a complex plural democracy such as India’s, electoral outcomes are a manifestation of various factors. This is an analysis of 513 million voter choices expressed over a 15-year period across six States that reveals the plausible impact of concurrent elections on voter behaviour and potentially nudging voter preferences in one direction."


Read the full article here.

Topic : State Capacity / In : OP-EDS
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