Electoral Reforms in India UPSC/Electoral reforms in India essay/recent electoral reforms in India/Election reforms in India
Why in News-
- Bringing Political parties under the ambit of RTI act.
- Conducting elections for Union and state legislatures at the same time.
- Law Commission of India’s Report on Electoral Reforms headed by-A.P. Shah.
- Time and again debated over the print and electronic media
India is the largest Democracy in the World. Elections are the most important and integral part of politics in a democratic system of governance .Democracy can function only upon this faith that elections are free and fair and not manipulated and rigged. But for certain reasons, system of Democracy is not working properly and common man feels that there is something wrong in the Electoral process.
While the first three general elections (1952-62) in our country were accepted by and large free and fair, a decline in standards began with the fourth general election in 1967. Over the years, Indian electoral system suffered from serious maladies’. Thus, the election process in our country is considered as the basis of political corruption.
The ideal conditions require that an honest, and upright person who is public spirited and wants to serve the people, should be able to contest and get elected as people’s representatives. But in actual fact, such a person has no chance of either contesting or in any case winning the election
MAIN ISSUES INELECTORAL POLITICS OF INDIA –
The elections at present are not being held in ideal conditions because of the enormous amount of money power and muscle power needed for winning the elections. In addition there are many other factors on the basis of which election is fought like poverty, casteism, communalism, criminalization of politics, poll violence, booth capturing, non-serious independent candidates, unemployment, etc
Money power– In each constituency, a prospective candidate has to spend millions of rupees towards campaigning, transport, publicity etc .The gap between the expenses incurred and legally permitted is increasing over the years.
Muscle Power– use of Violence, pre-election intimidation, booth capturing are mainly the products of muscle power and are prevalent in many parts of the country like Bihar, Western UP etc. and is slowly spreading to south India.
Criminalisation of politics and politicization of criminals– are like two sides of the same coin and are mainly responsible for the manifestation of muscle power at elections.
Politicization of criminals: criminals enter into politics to gain influence and ensure that cases against them are dropped or not proceeded with. Also, The political parties field criminals in elections for fund and in return provide them with political patronage and protection
Misuse of Government Machinery: It is generally complained that the government in power at the time of election misuse official machinery to improve their candidates election prospects . The misuse of official machinery takes different forms, such as use of government vehicles for canvassing ,advertisements at the cost of government and public exchequer highlighting their achievements, disbursements out of the discretionary funds at the disposal of the ministers, etc. which gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections.
Non serious Independent candidates -.Non-serious candidates are largely floated by serious candidates either to cut sizeable portion of votes of rival candidates or to split the votes on caste lines or to have additional physical force at polling station and counting centers
Casteism: there are cases of certain castes lending strong support to particular political parties. Thus political parties make offers to win different caste groups in their favor and caste groups also try to pressurize parties to give tickets for its members elections, . Caste based politics are eroding the „unity‟ principle in the name of regional autonomy. Thus caste as become a prime factor in winning elections and Candidates are selected not in terms of accomplishments, ability and merit but on the appendages of caste, creed and community
Communalism: the politics of communalism and religious fundamentalism during post independence has led to a number of separate movements in various states and regions of the country. Communal polarization has posed a serious threat to the Indian political ethos of pluralism, parliamentarianism, secularism and federalism.
Lack of Moral Values in Politics: Gandhian values of selflessness service to the people and self sacrifice have been destroyed systematically over the years and both the politicians and political parties have lost their credibility,.
According to Seetharam Yechury(MP) the 4 C’s in Indian politics, -Corruption, Crime, Communalism and casteism
It is crime which manifests itself in all the other factors)
a. Corruption is a crime,
b. dividing people along communal lines and spreading hatred in society is a crime,
c. Suppressing members of the lower caste is also a crime.
Therefore crime is the common factor among all these C’s.
Some major reforms taken –broadly classified as pre-2000 and post- 2000
The reports of various election reform commissions and a number of formal and informal group discussions at various forums and by individuals, have categorically pointed out the defects in the electoral system and came out with some useful suggestions. Yet the problems remaining to be as critical and challenging as ever.
However, government has accepted recommendations of many commission reports only partially. some of the important committees are-the Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms1990, committee on criminalization of politics by vohra ,committee on state funding of elections by Indrajith gupta , subsequent reports by the law commission, election commission, national commission to review the constitution headed by the M N Venkatachaliaha, second ARC on ethics in governance headed by Veerapa Moily, law commission report headed by A P Shaw 2015.
Reforms pre 2000
- Lowering of Voting Age: The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988 reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years for the Loksabha (house of the people) and state assembly elections. This has given the youth of the country an opportunity to participate and express their feeling in political processes.
- Deputation to Election Commission: officers or staff engaged in preparation, revision and correction of electoral rolls for elections shall be deemed to be on deputation of Election Commission for the period of such employment .and these personnel during that period, would be under the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission.
- Increase in Number of proposers: Number of electors required to sign as proposers in nomination papers for elections to Council of States (Rajyasabha) and State Legislative Council has been increased to 10% of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is less mainly to prevent frivolous candidates.
- Electronic Voting Machine: Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were first used in 1998 during the State elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. EVMs have been widely used in the sixteen Loksabha Elections in 2015.as they are-fool proof, efficient and eco-friendly (limited use of papers)
- Booth Capturing: EC May either declare the poll of the particular polling station as void and may appoint a date for fresh poll or countermand election in that constituency because of booth capturing. Booth capturing has been defined in Section 135 A of the RPA 1951.as seizure of a polling station and making polling authorities surrender ballot papers or voting machines, seizure of the polling place, threatening and preventing voters, taking possession of polling stations etc Election Commission on such report may
- Disqualification on Conviction for Insulting the National Honors Act, 1971: shall lead to disqualification for contesting elections to Parliament and State Legislatures for a period of six years from the date of such conviction
- Increase in Security Deposits and Number of Proposers: The amount of security deposit which a candidate needs to deposit at an election to the Loksabha or a State Legislative Assembly has been enhanced to check the multiplicity of non-serious candidates. In the case of an election to the Loksabha, the security deposit has been increased to Rs. 10,000 for the general candidate and to Rs. 5,000 for a candidate who is a member of a Scheduled cast/tribe.
In the case of elections to a State Legislative Assembly, the candidates will have to make a deposit of Rs. 5,000 if they are general candidates and Rs. 2,500 if they belong to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe respectively.
Proposers-The amended law further provides that the nomination of a candidate in a Parliamentary or Assembly constituency should be subscribed by 10 electors of the constituency as prospers and if the candidate has not been set up by a recognised National or State Party.
The number of proposers and seconders for contesting election to the office of the President of India has been increased to 50 each from 10 and; number of electors as proposers and seconders for contesting Vice-Presidential election has increased to 20 from 5. The security deposit has been increased to Rs. 15,000 from Rs. 2,500 for contesting election to the offices of President and Vice- President to discourage frivolous candidates.
- Restriction on Contesting Election from More than Two Constituencies: A candidate is eligible to contest election from not more than two Assembly or parliamentary constituencies at a general election or at the bye-elections which are held simultaneously. Similar restrictions will apply for biennial-elections and bye-elections to the Council of States (Rajyasabha) and State legislative councils.
- Death of a contesting Candidate: Previously, the election was countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. In future, no election will be countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate and If the deceased candidate, however, was set up by a recognized national or State party, then the party concerned will be given an option to nominate another candidate within seven days of the issue of a notice to that effect to the party concerned by the Election Commission.
- Prohibition with respect to Going Armed to or Near a Polling Station: is a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment up to two years or with fine or with both.
- Paid Holiday to Employees on the Poll day: violation of this amounts to a fine up to 500rs
- Prohibition on Sale of Liquor-: No liquor or other intoxicants shall be sold or given or distributed at any shop, eating place, or any other place, whether private or public, within a polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of poll. The violation of this rule is punished with imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 2000 or both
- Time Limit for Bye-elections: Bye-elections to any House of Parliament or a State Legislature will now be held within six months of occurrence of the vacancy in that House. but, this stipulation will not apply in two cases- where the remainder of the term of the member whose vacancy is to be filled is less than one year or where the Election Commission, in consultation with the Central Government, certifies that it is difficult to hold the bye-election within the said period.
- The effective campaigning period –has been reduced. The gap between the last date for with drawl of nomination and the polling date has been reduced from 20days to 14 days
Reforms since 2000
Restriction on exit polls-exit poll is an opinion survey regarding how electors have voted etc Thus conducting exist polls and publishing results of exit polls during the election to the Loksabha and state legislative assemblies during the period notified by the election commission shall be punishable with imprisonment up to 2 years and with fine or both.
Ceiling on election expenditure– ceiling on election expenditure for a Loksabha seat has been increased to 40 lakhs in bigger states and it varies between16 to40lakhs in other states and union territories. Similarly, ceiling on election expenditure has been increased in assembly elections to 16 lakhs in bigger states and it varies between 8 to16 lakhs in other states and union territories.
"Elect" redirects here. For other uses, see -elect and Election (disambiguation).
"Free election" redirects here. For the "free elections" of Polish kings, see Royal elections in Poland.
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.
The universal use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient Athens, where the Elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot.
Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Psephology is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results).
To elect means "to choose or make a decision", and so sometimes other forms of ballot such as referendums are referred to as elections, especially in the United States.
See also: History of democracy
Elections were used as early in history as ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and throughout the Medieval period to select rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor (see imperial election) and the pope (see papal election).
In Vedic period of India, the raja (chiefs) of a gana (a tribal organization) was apparently elected by the gana. The raja belonged to the noble Kshatriyavarna (warrior class), and was typically a son of the previous raja. However, the gana members had the final say in his elections. Even during the Sangam Period people elected their representatives by casting their votes and the ballot boxes (Usually a pot) were tied by rope and sealed. After the election the votes were taken out and counted. The Pala king Gopala (ruled c. 750s–770s CE) in early medieval Bengal was elected by a group of feudal chieftains. Such elections were quite common in contemporary societies of the region. In Chola Empire, around 920 CE, in Uthiramerur (in present-day Tamil Nadu), palm leaves were used for selecting the village committee members. The leaves, with candidate names written on them, were put inside a mud pot. To select the committee members, a young boy was asked to take out as many leaves as the number of positions available. This was known as the Kudavolai system.
The modern "election", which consists of public elections of government officials, didn't emerge until the beginning of the 17th century when the idea of representative government took hold in North America and Europe.
Questions of suffrage, especially suffrage for minority groups, have dominated the history of elections. Males, the dominate cultural group in North America and Europe, often dominated the electorate and continue to do so in many countries. Early elections in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States were dominated by landed or ruling class males. However, by 1920 all Western European and North American democracies had universal adult male suffrage (except Switzerland) and many countries began to consider women's suffrage. Despite legally mandated universal suffrage for adult males, political barriers were sometimes erected to prevent fair access to elections (See Civil Rights Movement).
The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. The electorate does not generally include the entire population; for example, many countries prohibit those who are under the age of majority from voting, all jurisdictions require a minimum age for voting.
In Australia Aboriginal people were not given the right to vote until 1962 (see 1967 referendum entry) and in 2010 the federal government removed the rights of prisoners to vote (a large proportion of which are Aboriginal Australians).
Suffrage is typically only for citizens of the country, though further limits may be imposed.
However, in the European Union, one can vote in municipal elections if one lives in the municipality and is an EU citizen; the nationality of the country of residence is not required.
In some countries, voting is required by law; if an eligible voter does not cast a vote, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as a fine.
A representative democracy requires a procedure to govern nomination for political office. In many cases, nomination for office is mediated through preselection processes in organized political parties.
Non-partisan systems tend to differ from partisan systems as concerns nominations. In a direct democracy, one type of non-partisan democracy, any eligible person can be nominated. In some non-partisan representative. History of elections. Although elections were used in ancient Athens, in Rome, and in the selection of popes and Holy Roman emperors, the origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America beginning in the 17th century. systems no nominations (or campaigning, electioneering, etc.) take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i.e., among the elected delegates).
As far as partisan systems, in some countries, only members of a particular political party can be nominated. Or, any eligible person can be nominated through a petition; thus allowing him or her to be listed.
Electoral systems are the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems that convert the vote into a political decision. The first step is to tally the votes, for which various vote counting systems and ballot types are used. Voting systems then determine the result on the basis of the tally. Most systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarian. Among the former are party-list proportional representation and additional member system. Among the latter are First Past the Post (FPP) (relative majority) and absolute majority. Many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a Condorcet method; these methods are also gaining popularity for lesser elections in some countries where more important elections still use more traditional counting methods.
While openness and accountability are usually considered cornerstones of a democratic system, the act of casting a vote and the content of a voter's ballot are usually an important exception. The secret ballot is a relatively modern development, but it is now considered crucial in most free and fair elections, as it limits the effectiveness of intimidation.
The nature of democracy is that elected officials are accountable to the people, and they must return to the voters at prescribed intervals to seek their mandate to continue in office. For that reason most democratic constitutions provide that elections are held at fixed regular intervals. In the United States, elections are held between every three and six years in most states, with exceptions such as the U.S. House of Representatives, which stands for election every two years. There is a variety of schedules, for example presidents: the President of Ireland is elected every seven years, the President of Russia and the President of Finland every six years, the President of France every five years, President of the United States every four years.
Pre-determined or fixed election dates have the advantage of fairness and predictability. However, they tend to greatly lengthen campaigns, and make dissolving the legislature (parliamentary system) more problematic if the date should happen to fall at time when dissolution is inconvenient (e.g. when war breaks out). Other states (e.g., the United Kingdom) only set maximum time in office, and the executive decides exactly when within that limit it will actually go to the polls. In practice, this means the government remains in power for close to its full term, and choose an election date it calculates to be in its best interests (unless something special happens, such as a motion of no-confidence). This calculation depends on a number of variables, such as its performance in opinion polls and the size of its majority.
Main article: Political campaign
When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns. Supporters for a campaign can be either formally organized or loosely affiliated, and frequently utilize campaign advertising. It is common for political scientists to attempt to predict elections via Political Forecasting methods.
The most expensive election campaign included US$7 billion spent on the United States presidential election, 2012 and is followed by the US$5 billion spent on the Indian general election, 2014.
Difficulties with elections
Main articles: Electoral fraud and Unfair election
In many countries with weak rule of law, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government. Dictators may use the powers of the executive (police, martial law, censorship, physical implementation of the election mechanism, etc.) to remain in power despite popular opinion in favor of removal. Members of a particular faction in a legislature may use the power of the majority or supermajority (passing criminal laws, defining the electoral mechanisms including eligibility and district boundaries) to prevent the balance of power in the body from shifting to a rival faction due to an election.
Non-governmental entities can also interfere with elections, through physical force, verbal intimidation, or fraud, which can result in improper casting or counting of votes. Monitoring for and minimizing electoral fraud is also an ongoing task in countries with strong traditions of free and fair elections. Problems that prevent an election from being "free and fair" take various forms:
Lack of open political debate or an informed electorate
The electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates due to lack of freedom of the press, lack of objectivity in the press due to state or corporate control, and/or lack of access to news and political media. Freedom of speech may be curtailed by the state, favoring certain viewpoints or state propaganda.
Gerrymandering, exclusion of opposition candidates from eligibility for office, needlessly high restrictions on who may be a candidate, like ballot access rules, and manipulating thresholds for electoral success are some of the ways the structure of an election can be changed to favor a specific faction or candidate.
Interference with campaigns
Those in power may arrest or assassinate candidates, suppress or even criminalize campaigning, close campaign headquarters, harass or beat campaign workers, or intimidate voters with violence. Foreign electoral intervention can also occur.
Tampering with the election mechanism
This can include confusing or misleading voters about how to vote, violation of the secret ballot, ballot stuffing, tampering with voting machines, destruction of legitimately cast ballots, voter suppression, voter registration fraud, failure to validate voter residency, fraudulent tabulation of results, and use of physical force or verbal intimation at polling places.
Other examples include persuading candidates into not standing against them, such as through blackmailing, bribery, intimidation or physical violence. History of elections. Although elections were used in ancient Athens, in Rome, and in the selection of popes and Holy Roman emperors, the origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America beginning in the 17th century.
- Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. Social Choice and Individual Values. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Benoit, Jean-Pierre and Lewis A. Kornhauser. 1994. "Social Choice in a Representative Democracy." American Political Science Review 88.1: 185–192.
- Corrado Maria, Daclon. 2004. US elections and war on terrorism – Interview with professor Massimo Teodori Analisi Difesa, n. 50
- Farquharson, Robin. 1969. A Theory of Voting. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Mueller, Dennis C. 1996. Constitutional Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Owen, Bernard, 2002. "Le système électoral et son effet sur la représentation parlementaire des partis: le cas européen.", LGDJ;
- Riker, William. 1980. Liberalism Against Populism: A Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
- Thompson, Dennis F. 2004. Just Elections: Creating a Fair Electoral Process in the U.S. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226797649
- Ware, Alan. 1987. Citizens, Parties and the State. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
|Look up election in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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