BJP landslide in India, or not?

It was widely reported that the BJP (Hindu nationalist party) won a landslide victory in this month’s Indian general election.

It was certainly a landslide in seats.  The NDA (BJP and allies) won 337 (62%) out of 543 seats.

But the news media did not report that the BJP achieved only 31.1% (less than a third) of the votes.   Even with its alliance parties, it still had only 38.66% (fewer than four out of ten) of the votes!

Frankly, this is ridiculous but not surprising.  UK parties have also won elections, sometimes with large majorities, on only about 40% of the votes.

India is often described as the largest democracy in the world, but is that democratic?  It is certainly not representative.

As well as the unrepresentative national result, there were also many unrepresentative local results.  In 343 out of 543 constituencies, the winner obtained fewer than half the valid votes. 109 winners received fewer than 40% of the votes.

The worst individual result was in Jammu & Kashmir – Ladakh, where the BJP winner received only 26.4% of the votes; i.e. nearly three out of four voters voted against the winner!

Needless to say, India inherited, and suffers from, the UK’s discredited First Past The Post (Winner takes All) voting system.

By the way, one key difference between the UK and Indian systems is that “None of the above” is an option in India, but the bizarre results reported above show that “None of the above”, which some advocate for the UK, does not solve problems.  The voting system itself needs to be changed.

Single Transferable Vote (STV) in multi-member constituencies would be even more beneficial in India than it would in the UK.  One of STV’s many advantages is that it can reconcile different cultural, ethnic and religious groups, of which there are many in India.


Source: Keith Underhill, former ERS Council member.

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