• All citizens cannot take a direct part in making every decision. Therefore, representatives are elected by people. This is why elections become important.
• Whenever we think of India as a democracy, our mind invariably turns to last elections.
Election System in India First Past Post System (FPTP)
• In our country, we follow a special method of elections. Under this system:
1. The entire country is divided into 543 constituencies;
2. Each constituency elects one representative; and
3. The candidate who secures highest number of votes in that constituency is declared elected.
• In this system, whoever has more votes than all other candidates will be declared elected.
• The winning candidate needn’t secure a majority of votes. This method is known as First Past Post (FPTP) system.
• In electoral race, candidate who is ahead of others, who crosses winning post first is winner. This method is known as Plurality System.
• This is method of election prescribed by Constitution for general elections in India.
Proportional Representation (PR)
• In PR system, there could be two variations.
• In some countries, like Israel or Netherlands, entire country is treated as one Constituency and seats are allocated to each party according to its share of votes in national election.
• The other method is when country is divided into several multi-member constituencies as in Argentina and Portugal. Each party prepares a list of candidates for each constituency, depending on how many have to be elected from that constituency.
• In both these variations, voters exercise their preference for a party and not a candidate. The seats in a constituency are distributed based on votes polled by a party.
• In India, we have adopted a PR system on a limited scale for indirect elections. The Constitution prescribes a third and complex variation of PR system for election of President, Vice President, and for election to Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishads.
Comparison of FPTP and PR system of election FPTP PR
|The country is divided into small geographical units known as constituencies or districts.||Large geographical areas are demarcated as constituencies. The entire country may be a single constituency.|
|Every constituency elects one representative.||More than one representative may be elected from one constituency.|
|Voter votes for a candidate.||Voter votes for party.|
|A party may get more seats than votes in legislature.||Every party gets seats in legislature in proportion to percentage of votes that it gets.|
|The candidate who wins election may not get a majority (50%+1) votes.||The candidate who wins elections gets majority of votes.|
|Examples: U.K., India||Examples: Israel, Netherlands|
System in Rajya Sabha Election
• The third variant of PR, Single Transferable Vote system (STV), is followed for Rajya Sabha elections. Every State has a specific quota of seats in Rajya Sabha.
• The members are elected by respective State Legislative Assemblies. The voters are MLAs in that State.
• Every voter is required to rank candidates according to her or his preference.
• To be declared winner, a candidate must secure a minimum quota of votes, which is determined by a formula:
(Total votes polled/ Total number of candidates to be elected +1) +1 FPTP System in India
• The reason for popularity and success of FPTP system is its simplicity.
• The entire election system is extremely simple to understand even for common voters who may have no specialised knowledge about politics and elections.
• The FPTP system offers voters a choice not simply between parties but specific candidates.
• In FPTP, voters know who their representative is and can hold him or her accountable.
• The makers of our Constitution felt that a PRbased election may not be suitable for giving a stable government in a Parliamentary system.
• The FPTP system encourages voters from different social groups to come together to win an election in a locality.
• The FPTP system has proved to be simple and familiar to ordinary voters. It has helped larger parties to win clear majorities at Centre and State level.
• The system has discouraged political parties that get all their votes only from one caste or community.
Reservation of Constituencies
• Certain social groups may be spread across country and might not be properly represented. To ensure their proper representation, a system of reservation becomes necessary.
• The Constitution provides for reservation of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This provision was made initially for 10 years. The Parliament can decide to extend it further when period of reservation expires.
• The number of seats reserved for both of these groups is in proportion to their share of population of India.
• It is an independent body.
• It is appointed by President of India and works in collaboration with Election Commission of India.
• It is appointed for purpose of drawing up boundaries of constituencies all over country.
• A quota of constituencies to be reserved in each state is fixed depending on proportion of SC or ST in that State.
• The Constitution does not make a similar reservation for other disadvantaged groups.
Universal Adult Franchise
• Democratic elections require that all adult citizens of country must be eligible to vote in elections. This is called a Universal Adult Franchise.
• Till 1989, an adult Indian meant an Indian citizen above age of 21. An amendment to Constitution in 1989, reduced eligibility age to 18.
• Adult franchise ensures that all citizens can participate in process of selecting their representatives.
• Article 324 of Indian Constitution provides for an independent Election Commission for ‘superintendence, direction & control of electoral roll and conduct of elections in India.
• There is a Chief Electoral Officer in every state to assist Election Commission of India.
• The Election Commission of India is not responsible for conduct of Local Body Elections.
• The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) presides over Election Commission but does not have more powers than other Election Commissioners.
• The CEC and two Election Commissioners have equal powers to take all decisions relating to elections as a collective body. They are appointed by President of India on advice of Council of Ministers.
• The Constitution ensures security of tenure of CEC and Election Commissioners. They are appointed for a six-year term or continue till age of 65, whichever is earlier.
• The CEC can be removed before expiry of term, by President if both Houses of Parliament make such a recommendation with a special majority. This is done to ensure that a ruling party cannot remove a CEC that refuses to favour it in elections.
• During election process, administrative officers of State and Central Governments are assigned election-related duties, and in this respect, Election Commission has full control over them.
• The EC can transfer officers, or stop their transfers; it can take action against them for failing to act in a non-partisan manner.
• The Election Commission of India has a wide range of functions.
• It supervises preparation of an up-to-date voters’ list.
• It determines timing of elections and prepares election schedule.
• The Election Commission has power to take decisions to ensure a free and fair poll.
• The Commission implements a model code of conduct for parties and candidates.
• The Election Commission accords recognition to political parties and allots symbols to each of them.