Exit polls suggest close call in Indian elections

While we await the official results due Sunday, the exit polls are now out in India’s general election. The Hindustan Times reports that they suggest a close call, with (as expected) neither of the main alliances having won a majority.

an India TV exit poll telecast after balloting ended said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) could end up with 195-201 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha.

This tally could go up to 227-237 if the seats bagged by estranged allies such as Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party were to be included. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was tipped to bag 189-195 seats and the Third Front 113-121 seats, it said.

The story points out that the eligible electorate in India is greater than the combined populations of Russia and the USA: 714 million. Turnout was only about 55%, however.

Separately, the HT notes that the (otherwise mostly ceremonial) President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, “has a plan.”

Government functionaries familiar with the line of thinking at Rashtrapati Bhavan [the presidential residence] suggest that the single largest political party — rather than the largest pre-poll alliance — may get the first offer to form the government.

However, the story also notes that a previous president, K.R. Narayanan, believed that the president had “full discretion” in choosing the PM (who in any case has to prove his or her majority on the floor).

There is no clear view at Rashtrapati Bhavan if Patil should stick to this precedent and ask the largest party to produce evidence of support from their coalition partners.

Though the Congress too had submitted letters from supporting parties before [incumbent PM] Manmohan Singh got a formal invite from President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004, a strong case is being made out for the President to not get into counting heads. She should instead ask the Prime Minister to take a floor test.

6 thoughts on “Exit polls suggest close call in Indian elections

  1. Aren’t hung parliaments rare with FPTP electoral systems?

    Expect to see a lot of wheeling and dealing in smoke filled rooms if no bloc wins a clear majority.

    Would India had been better off if it had embraced proportional representation at independence instead of FPTP?

    Of course, India does use STV to elect it’s indirectly elected Senate, it is elected by the states.

  2. India could have used closed lists with small/ medium districts (5-10 seats), d’Hondt allocation and a 5% threshold.

  3. 5% district wide or nation wide? That would eliminate a lot of regional parties. I think India would have been better with PR, Congress would have never won a 2/3rds majority with it. Indira Gandhi could have never suspended democracy during the emergency. Most likely Congress Party at the beginning would have won bare majority governments or formed minority governments.

    Right now, India it is stuck with FPTP, if there was electoral reform, could MMP be considered? There are lots of reversal plurality elections at the state level, the India people seem indifferent towards that, could that spell a movement for electoral reform.

    At least if India had PR, then the country would have no need for reserving seats for SC and ST members, women would be better represented, and so would Muslims.

    The problem is that the country has such a low literacy rate, so preferential voting systems are out of the question.

    Should the country embrace a one ballot MMP system, or a two vote MMP system? Parties would be more national with a nation wide tier. Of course, the best looser system could be used.

    India’s parliament would need to be expanded, it’s at 543 with two appointed members for Anglo Indians, so maybe a parliament size at 655 members to 700 members with at least a minimum of 20% to 25% for the list tier. Would that even be enough to be proportionate?

    Are there any countries with parliaments beyond 700 members? I think Italy or United Kingdom are the largest democratically elected parliaments in the world.

    How would a huge parliament even function compare toward a smaller one? Is it possible to have a 1000 member parliament. How big should India’s parliament be given it’s huge population size?

  4. > “5% district wide or nation wide? That would eliminate a lot of regional parties.”

    I was thinking, within regional districts. Aiming for a PR system that enjoyed all the advantages that FPTP would be supposed to have provided India (non-fragmentation, reserved seats for Scheduled Castes, and – importantly with widespread illiteracy – simplicity of voting).

    Having said that, Malta has operated STV successfully for nearly a century despite low literacy rates for much of that time.

  5. It looks like the Congress Party and it’s allies have been reelected to an increased mandate. It would be interesting to see the popular votes of each parties.

    Hopefully, it’s look Congress called the Left bluff in passing the nuclear deal with the U.S. Now they are not dependent on such finicky allies to push through economic reforms.

    The Left and Caste Identity parties suffer chronic meltdowns, and even the BJP did poorly. Why are opinion polls so wrong in third world developing countries? There even unreliable even in South Africa’s most recent election.

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