India 2009 Archive


Indian results live

2:46pm – We’re starting to get results coming on the Election Commission’s results website. I’ll start doing some analysis at the earliest opportunity, however it appears that the website is being overwhelmed. Stay tuned.

3:29pm – I’m finding other sources for information. In Kerala, which has traditionally been dominated by Communist parties, Congress and its allies are leading in early results.

3:44pm – While it is difficult to get concrete figures to use, it appears that Congress has made gains and will be in a stronger position after the election.

3:49pm – The best source of information I have found is the Hindustan Times (thanks to Oz).

3:51pm – In Rajasthan, there has been a complete turnaround. Out of the 25 seats in the state, the BJP last time won 21 and the INC 4. At the moment the INC leads in 19.

4:24pm – There’s not much to report at the moment, so I may be away from my computer for the next few hours. At the moment the Congress-led alliance holds 245 seats, only 27 seats short of a majority. They won’t get there, but it makes it impossible for anyone else to get there on those numbers.


Super Saturday eve

Tomorrow is a big day for elections, and I thought it would be useful to lay out what we will be seeing tomorrow:

  • India’s election finished on Wednesday, and the results of the vote counting will be announced tomorrow. I don’t know how this information will roll out, but hopefully during the day we can report on individual state results and how it impacts on the national story. Exit polls released after voting concluded on Wednesday predict that neither major coalition will win a majority, forcing one of them to cooperate with left-wing and regional parties. These polls predict that the INC-led United Progressive Alliance will come out ahead of the opposition National Democratic Alliance, but the result will be determined by post-election negotiations.
  • Voters in Western Australia go to the polls to vote in a referendum on keeping daylight saving. This is the fourth attempt to implement daylight saving, after referendums in 1975, 1984 and 1992 were defeated by small margins. Polls close at 8pm AEST tomorrow night. Antony Green has created a guide, with past election results, on ABC Elections.
  • Voters in the state electorate of Fremantle will also elect a new member of the Legislative Assembly to succeed former Attorney-General Jim McGinty. The race is between Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri, running for the ALP, and Greens candidate Adele Carles. Most are picking a close result (as is traditional in these types of by-elections). Considering that Poll Bludger William Bowe is a local, I’ll defer to his wisdom.

World election news – April 7

We’ve got a bunch of global elections taking place over the next two months. I have posted an electoral calendar in the sidebar. These include elections in South Africa, India and Iceland, a parliamentary election in Indonesia, a referendum on Daylight Saving in Western Australia, and a state by-election for the seat of Fremantle in Western Australia. In order to cover the stories in all of these campaigns, I’m gonna start a regular post covering them all. I may go more indepth on each election.

  • Indonesia goes to the polls this Thursday to elect its national Parliament. Sitting president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party is leading in the polls on 27%, up from 7% at the 2004 election, which will make it easier for Yudhoyono to run on his own for President. Jakarta is three hours behind AEST, meaning that, if this story is correct, we should see most of the results come in on Thursday night. I’ll try and cover it on the night. The best story I have found to wrap up the state of the parties is this one in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Google has launched a fantastic website for the upcoming Indian election, including a brilliant Google Map (although I can’t find a way to download it into Google Earth). Have a play.
  • Fairfax’s WA Today has a great article from last week laying out the issues we have played out on the blog this week regarding the possible Liberal candidacy in the Fremantle by-election, as well as raising the issues Peter Tagliaferri may have in getting Labor preselection for the seat.
  • In South Africa, ANC party president and presidential candidate Jacob Zuma has dodged the latest criminal charges, with the National Prosecution Authority dropping charges against the embattled frontrunner just two weeks out from the election.
  • Less than three weeks out from Iceland’s parliamentary election, it’s worth looking at the polls. While one poll in January put the Left/Green Movement in first place, most polls since then have put the Social Democratic Alliance. Last week’s poll saw the SDA on 29.4%, Left Green on 27.2%, the right-wing Independence Party on 25.4% and the centrist Progressive Party on 10.7%.

India’s redistribution

I haven’t managed to get my head around the consequences of India’s electoral “delimitation” process, which saw most of the country’s electorate boundaries redrawn for the first time in 33 years, but this article from the BBC gives a good overview of the consequences:

In a deeply fractured society divided along caste, religious, tribal and identity lines, redrawing the constituencies has, in the words of political scientist Yogendra Yadav, “wiped out their histories” and altered the political representation of social groups.

“It is a political earthquake of sorts. The newly drawn constituencies are starting from scratch,” he says.

This, in turn, is posing fresh challenges to political party managers in choosing candidates to contest the altered constituencies. The candidates themselves are concerned about the changing character of the constituencies.


Analysts suggest that with the increase of urban constituencies, the Hindu nationalist BJP is likely to have an edge because the party has done traditionally well in urban areas.

But, as Yogendra Yadav says, delimitation will not radically influence the overall result.

“The strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in the newly redrawn constituencies cancel each other out, and no party gains drastically overall,” he says.


India 2009: Maharashtra

Maharashtra is India’s second-largest state, covering western parts of central India. The state’s capital is Mumbai, India’s largest city and financial capital.

Maharashtra has 48 seats in the Lok Sabha, and voters will go to the polls in the first three rounds of voting from 16 April to 30 April, with a majority of electorates voting on 23 April.

The 2004 election saw the major parties win a bare majority of Maharashtra’s seats, winning 13 each out of a total of 48. The remaining 22 seats were all won by parties who won no seats outside of the state.

The Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena won 12 of the 48 seats, and is allied to the BJP’s National Democratic Alliance. The Nationalist Congress Party won 9 seats. The NCP is allied with the INC’s United Progressive Alliance and broke away from the INC in 1999 over the issue of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi’s right to contest the prime ministership. There is one other seat held by the small Republican Party of India (Athvale), which is also a member of the UPA. Overall this gives the right-wing NDA a 25-23 majority in the state’s federal parliamentary delegation.

The state is governed by a coalition of the INC and NCP. The biggest recent issue in Maharashtra have revolved around the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which saw Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh resign on December 2.


India 2009: Uttar Pradesh

The first round of voting in the world’s largest election will take place in just over two weeks. Indian politics is far too big and complex to cover on a national level, so I thought I’d start doing posts on the election in individual Indian states, starting with the  largest state of Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh is India’s largest state, covering a large stretch of northern India. The state borders Nepal to the north, and reaches the outskirts of Delhi in the east. Uttar Pradesh is home to 190 million people. Only five countries, including India, have a larger population.

Uttar Pradesh will elect 80 members of the Lok Sabha in single-member constituencies at the upcoming election. 16 constituencies vote in the first round of voting on April 16, with roughly a fifth of constituencies voting in each of the five rounds of voting.

The political environment in Uttar Pradesh reflects the decline of the major parties in Indian politics. At the 2004 election, only 19 seats were won by the Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.

Uttar Pradesh politics is dominated by two socialist parties: the Samajwadi Party, which is now allied with the Indian National Congress, and the Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the leading parties in the Third Front of left-wing and regional parties. Both parties are almost entirely based in Uttar Pradesh, with practically no federal representation in other states.

The 2004 election saw the Samajwadi Party win 35 seats and the BSP 19. At the 2007 state election in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi minority government was defeated, with a BSP majority government elected, headed by former Chief Minister Mayawati. She led the first majority government in Uttar Pradesh in over a decade.

Since the launch of the new leftist Third Front, Mayawati has emerged as the party’s unofficial leader, and has ambitions to be the next Prime Minister, and will likely be a key powerbroker if neither major parties manages to achieve a dominant position in the election.

The other prominent figure in Uttar Pradesh to appear in the election is Varun Gandhi, the 29-year-old grandson of Indira Gandhi. While the Indian National Congress includes amongst its leaders the wife and son of the slain PM Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira, another branch of the family is aligned with the BJP.

In 1980, Indira Gandhi’s eldest son Sanjay was killed in a plane crash. After his death, his wife Maneka became involved in politics, and fell out with Indira Gandhi. Following Indira Gandhi’s death she formed a new party and ran against Rajiv Gandhi in his constituency. She served as minister in a number of non-Congress governments in the 1990s and ended up joining the BJP.

Her son Varun is running for the BJP for the first time in 2009, and his campaign has become a national issue with his own “macaca moment”, when he was recorded making derogatory comments about Muslims. The case saw the Electoral Commission recommend he be barred from standing (a recommendation the BJP has rejected) and, on Suunday, he was charged and jailed by the Uttar Pradesh state authorities under the harsh National Security Act for his alleged hate speech, with many drawing links between the charge and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s attempts to appeal to the Muslim community.


India and Indonesia update

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, the surprisingly-large “upcoming elections in large Asian countries whose name begins with an I” has a couple of articles of interest for election junkies.

In Indonesia, the Herald has reported that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is staring down a shadowy electoral challenge from army officers:

Displaying his famed Javanese circumlocution, Dr Yudhoyono called in senior military and police officers to the State Palace last week and, in the presence of the media, revealed his concern about a rumoured “ABS” campaign.

“ABS,” he said, stood for “Anyone But S”. Who “S” was, Dr Yudhoyono would not say, although it seems a clear reference to his own campaign for re-election. Moreover, he looked the officers in the eye and, as the TV cameras rolled, said he did not believe the rumour, before giving them a stern lecture about the importance of political neutrality during this coming legislative and presidential polls.

Indonesian democracy is still barely a decade old, and this year will be only the second ever direct presidential election, which means there is little in the way of strong party structures and political traditions in the country, and it’s not yet clear whether Yudhoyono’s current dominance is a sign of his likely re-election, or just the fact that the campaign is yet to commence. It seems bizarre that a national presidential campaign could be conducted in the next six months when no-one is yet to discover the name of the possible candidate.

Meanwhile, in India, the Herald has focused on the ill-health of Congress leader and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Dr Singh has been hospitalised for the past two weeks.

The Congress party-led governing coalition insists that Dr Singh is making a rapid recovery and that he will return to work soon. However, he is unlikely to figure much in the election campaign already gathering momentum.

Instead, Congress will rely heavily on its president, Sonia Gandhi, and her son, Rahul, to spearhead the Government’s re-election effort.

“Congress depends very heavily on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi,” said Sanjay Kumar, a political analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. “They are the only ones they have with a genuine nationwide appeal.”

Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, grandmother Indira Gandhi and great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru were all prime ministers. Dr Singh’s sudden withdrawal from the political fray at such a crucial time has triggered speculation that Rahul, the heir to this great political dynasty, may be installed as prime minister if Congress defies the odds and does well at the polls.


2009 election preview: India

At the recent US election, over 131 million people cast votes in the presidential contest. Yet Indian elections take place on a much larger scale.  The last federal election, in 2004, saw 389 million votes cast for 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Indian lower house.

The world’s largest democracy goes back to the polls by May 2009. The last election in 2004 saw the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and his allies in the National Democratic Alliance, defeated by the United Progressive Alliance, dominated by the Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi.

Following the election Gandhi declined to become Prime Minister, with the Prime Ministership going to former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Indian party system is simultaneously fractured and coalesced into two major party alliances. The 2004 election saw 39 parties win seats in Parliament. Yet the election was a clear contest between the UPA and the NDA, which between them covered 21 of those 39 parties, and the result was a clear majority for the United Progressive Alliance. The two alliances are dominated by the Indian National Congress, a centrist party dominated by the Gandhi family, and the Hindu/nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party respectively. In addition, 60 seats are held by a variety of communist and socialist parties who have lined up as a third alliance. Many regional-based parties run independently of the alliances and collectively hold over a quarter of the Lok Sabha’s seats.

Elections take place over a number of stages. In 2004, four election days were held between April 20 and May 10, with constituencies being allocated to different election dates. Counting did not commence until the final votes had been cast, with ballot boxes being opened on May 13.

The Indian general election isn’t the typical sort of election I would cover. However, it is a Commonwealth country using a similar first-past-the-post electoral system. Add that to the fact that it is the world’s largest electoral contest, and it is a fascinating demonstration of Westminster politics outside its Western habitat. Clearly I’m no expert on Indian politics, so if anyone is an expert, please comment below.