This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by praveen krishnan A. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

More Seats With Little Vote Share? Why India Needs To Revamp Its Electoral Process

More from praveen krishnan A

It is true that the first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP) voting system has catered to the requirements of a diverse country like India to a large extent. Over the last 70 years, India has seen single-party rule, emergence of regional parties and coalition governments. The peculiarity of India’s democratic process lies in its simplicity. A glowing testimony to this fact has come from Hillary Clinton (former Secretary of State, USA and presidential candidate) who called it the ‘gold standard’.

However , scepticism has been expressed from various quarters regarding its effectiveness, because a political party which manages to secure a ‘decent’ vote-share (anywhere between 25% to 40%) ends up forming the government (alone or with coalition partners). A recent example is that of the BJP forming the government in the 2014 elections. With a 31% vote-share, it fetched 52% of the seats in the Lok Sabha. On the other hand, critics argue that anything short of 50% doesn’t amount to a majority or the people’s will.

This article doesn’t intend to check the merits of such criticisms. It only seeks to explore ways to  remove such discrepancies.

The Vibrancy Of The Indian Democracy

The ‘festivity’ surrounding India’s massive poll-exercises is one reason for its success. At a psychological level, there are the ‘unexpected outcomes’ of polls (both at the national and the local levels). The sense of being a part of such a big thing links the masses to India’s democracy.

Irrespective of whether the poor have enjoyed the fruits of India’s development or not, they continue  to participate. For the millions who don’t have a direct say in governance and policy-making, actively participating in the electoral preparations gives a sense of ‘accommodation’. Therefore, any suggestion aimed at revamping the FPP should factor in such feelings, that ensure the vibrancy and festivity – and doesn’t make the cumbersome process boring.

 Core Of The Issue Regarding FPP

The current electoral process is definitely that of selection – and selection becomes meaningful only in the presence of comparisons and alternatives. However, India’s FPP system allows individuals to only make a ‘single choice’ (NOTA is almost irrelevant in the present scheme of things).

In the present system, those votes polled for a candidate who didn’t get the maximum number are buried once and for all. Votes are nothing but choices – and we are actually dumping the choices of say 60% of the people, when we elect a political party which secures 40% votes (but gets the maximum number of seats). What if I want to suggest a second choice? What if I want my vote to be counted and be given due weightage?

Alternative 1: Fractional Voting

In this model, there will be as many choices for the electors as the number of candidates. But the value of the vote varies depending on whether a candidate has been chosen as a ‘first choice’, ‘second choice’ and so on.

For example, the value of the ‘first choice’ can be one, that of the ‘second choice’ can be half and that of the ‘third choice’ can be one-third. There can also be a ‘rejection vote’ which may carry a value of minus one, and which can be given to any candidate. The total value of the votes received by a candidate will be the weighted sum of all these values.

For illustration, consider an imaginary constituency with 100 electors and three candidates. Let us denote these candidates as A, B and C. During an election, let the outcome be as follows:

 

Candidate Name First Preference Vote Second Preference Vote Third Preference Vote Rejection Vote
             A              40            10 40 10
             B              35            35 30 0
             C              25            55 20 10

 

Here,

Value of votes polled for A= (40×1)+(10×0.5)+(40×0.3)+(10x-1)= 48.3

Value of votes polled for B= (35×1)+(35×0.5)+(30×0.3)= 62.5

Value of votes polled for C= (25×1)+(55×0.5)+(20×0.3)+(10x-1)= 49.1

Hence, B wins the election.

The advantage stems from the fact that irrespective of the variability of acceptance of a candidate by an elector, ‘every vote counts’ (be it a ‘third preference’ vote or a ‘rejection’ vote).This will prompt political parties to not just focus on their core supporters, but also reach out to those sections who can probably mark them as their second or third  choice or even reject them.

Alternative 2: Proportional Representation In A Second House

This option involves a substantial overhaul of the parliamentary system and can also be practised at the state level. As the title indicates, there shall be two houses for the state legislature. The elections to the popular house (the assembly) is to be conducted using Alternative 1 and the cumulative vote share of that outcome shall be utilised to fill the second house.

For example, let there be three political parties X,Y and Z. Suppose party X has won the mandate for the assembly, and Y has formed the Opposition in the lower house. Let’s suppose that Z , even after winning some votes (say 10%) doesn’t make it to the lower house (the assembly). In this scenario, even though parties X  and Y will occupy as many  seats as their percentage of votes in the legislative council (the upper house), Z will also get its due share as per the vote share (10% of seats in this case).

The members of the legislative assembly from X and Y will elect their representatives to the legislative council  – whereas for party Z, they will be nominated through a transparent process.The ‘permanent nature’ of the members of the legislative council will be altered to align it with the state elections – and only one-third of the seats will be filled in this manner. In other words, one-third of the members of the legislative council shall vacate the house once the tenure of the assembly is over.

The emphasis should be on the facts that every vote is counted and that every opinion is represented. Being represented at the higher forums will enable a reflection of the diversity – and the best part will be the strengthening of the Opposition.

The added advantages of strong dissenting voices will be tantamount to a shot in the arm, as regards accountability and honesty. More representation also equates to familiarising more individuals to the upper echelons of electoral polity. If a radical shift happens once to the political environment of the country, those assuming power will definitely have some experience – and we will always have a pool of talented, young, vibrant individuals.

_

Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Prasad Gori/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
You must be to comment.

More from praveen krishnan A

Similar Posts

By Avantika Tiwari

By Imran Khan

By Vama Pavecha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below