Common flop party

What happened to the Aam Adadmi (Common Man) Party, which was such a media sensation following its electoral breakthrough in Delhi last year?

It won 4 seats in the Lok Sabha polls; that’s 0.74%. It did win almost a third of the vote in Dehli, and came in second in every constituency. In a plurality system that doesn’t cut it.*

All of its seats came in Punjab, where it tied for the lead in seats with 4 of the state’s 13. It was third there in votes (24.4%), behind Congress (33.1%, and yes, Congress is still the plurality party in a few states!) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (26.3%). The SAD is the incumbent government at the state level, and is the other party that won 4 seats; it is part of the BJP-led NDA.**

The AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal made a massive miscalculation that it would be rewarded for resigning after failing to secure assembly support on its central campaign plank (an anti-corruption body), rather than attempt to build a record of governance on what it could accomplish as a minority administration in Delhi. It decided to go for “national party” status, and ran over 400 candidates (more, I believe, than any other party). The outsider stuff will carry one only so far.

Despite my “flop” remark above, the party did win a higher share of the vote in Delhi than it had in the assembly poll (29.5%, which put it second to the BJP’s 33.1%). New elections in Delhi are likely some time later this year. The AAP is not seeking my advice, but if it was, I’d say focus on the 8 districts won by Congress last December and a few of their own strongest constituencies, because likely they will be playing for minimizing a BJP win, rather than an immediate new shot at the power they had and gave up rather too easily.

* The BJP won all 7 Lok Sabha seats with 46.4% of the vote. The Congress managed 15.1%, which is quite a collapse even from its bad result in the assembly poll in December, when it was a close third place, on 24.5%.

** The BJP won 2 seats on just 8.7% of the statewide vote, but this is again a case of stand-down arrangements between the BJP and a stronger local ally.

4 thoughts on “Common flop party

  1. Well, I don’t quite know what you expected, but my sources were mostly predicting a complete flop, with no seats, with only one poll having them on one seat. 4 seats, on the other hand, is not a bad place to start for a new party, particularly when a new government is just settling in.


    • This case reminds me somewhat of Pakistani cricket player Imran Khan, who thought his fame in the world of sports would translate into instant electoral success…and instead flopped big time in Pakistan’s 1997 general election. In fact, a few months later the British press could not
      resist bringing up Khan’s PTI party’s zero-seat outcome in Pakistan while covering his then-wife Jemima, who campaigned for both her husband in Pakistan and her father – Sir James Goldsmith and his Referendum Party – in the UK general election held the same year; the implication was that Sir James would come up empty-handed too, which turned out to be the case. That said, Mr. Khan managed to get elected to Pakistan’s National Assembly five years later, and his party is now the third largest in terms of lower house seats.


  2. JD, I expected a complete flop. Much of the Indian media treated it as a party on the verge of a national breakthrough. That always seemed transparently ridiculous to me.


  3. The Aam Aadmi contested 432 seats. Its candidates averaged 2.5% of the vote. In the four districts that it won, it averaged 40.1%. In Delhi, as noted above, it came second in each of the seven constituencies, with a maximum 38.6% in North West constituency, and less than a third of the vote in four of the others.


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