Simultaneous Elections: Who Stands to Benefit the Most?
Various political parties have differing views about simultaneous elections.
Simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies are being debated again. The available data on simultaneous polls does not indicate any definitive trend. However, national parties with momentum at the national level might gain from this move.
Various political parties have differing views about holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. Recently, Election Commissioner OP Rawat said the Election Commission of India would be logistically ready to hold simultaneous elections from September 2018.
While the necessary consensus and constitutional amendments will take time, who stands to benefit if such elections were to be held? Does past election data suggest any trend?
Only Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim had Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha election in 2004, 2009, and 2014. What do the past election results in these states suggest?
In the 2004 elections, the BJP as a junior partner had an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party, while the Congress was in alliance with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Left parties. The Congress alliance’s vote share in the Lok Sabha elections was 2.16 percent more than its vote share in the Assembly polls. The BJP+TDP alliance lost more than 2 percent vote share when it came to the Lok Sabha election.
The Congress won both the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections in 2004.
In 2009, the BJP and the Congress contested alone, while the regional parties like the TDP and the TRS were in alliance. Even in 2009, the Congress’ vote share in Lok Sabha elections was 2.4 percent more than its vote share in the Assembly polls. For the BJP, the Lok Sabha vote share was marginally more than its Assembly vote share.
The regional parties lost more 3 percent vote share in the Lok Sabha elections compared to the Assembly elections. The Congress again won both the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014, the BJP was back in alliance with the TDP, while Congress contested alone in the aftermath of the state bifurcation. The BJP alliance’s vote share for Lok Sabha was 1.22 percent more than its vote share in the Assembly polls. The Congress’ vote share for Assembly and Lok Sabha was more or less the same.
The TRS, which won in Telangana, had a slightly greater vote share in Lok Sabha compared to the Assembly. The BJP alliance won both in residual Andhra Pradesh and the Lok Sabha.
In 2004, the BJP was in alliance with the Biju Janata Dal, while the Congress contested alone. Both the BJP alliance and the Congress gained close to 5 percent and 6 percent vote share respectively in the Lok Sabha elections compared to the Assembly.
Independents and other smaller parties had more than 10 percent vote share in the Lok Sabha. The BJP+BJD alliance won in the Assembly and majority of the Lok Sabha seats.
In 2009, the BJD and BJP contested separately. In these elections, both the Congress and the BJP gained vote share in Lok Sabha compared to the Assembly. The Congress gained more than 3.5 percent while BJP gained around 1.8 percent.
The BJD lost more than 1.6 percent vote share in Lok Sabha. The BJD won the Assembly as well as majority of the Lok Sabha seats.
In 2014, all the three parties – BJD, BJP, and the Congress – gained vote share in Lok Sabha compared to Assembly. But, the greatest gain was by the BJP (3.8 percent) followed by BJD (1.42 percent).
Congress gained only 0.67 percent. The BJD won both the Assembly and majority of the Lok Sabha seats.
In Arunachal Pradesh & Sikkim
Simultaneous elections were held in Arunachal Pradesh in 2014 only. The Congress lost close to 8 percent vote share in Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP gained more than 15 percent vote share in the Lok Sabha. Both Congress and the BJP won one seat each in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In Sikkim, both the Congress and the BJP have marginally increased their vote share in Lok Sabha elections in each of the elections in 2004, 2009, and 2014. The strong regional party, SDF’s vote share in Lok Sabha was only slightly less than the Assembly in 2004, 2009 as well as 2014.
What Does the Data Indicate?
It has to be noted that many local factors, strong regional party leaders with an appeal, presence of other smaller parties, alliances, etc, could impact the outcome of simultaneous elections. While the available data does not point towards any definitive trend, certain things emerge.
- On most occasions, the big national parties like BJP and the Congress have gained vote share in Lok Sabha elections compared to the Assembly election when simultaneous elections were held.
- Parties that have won at the national level have gained a greater vote share (with or without allies) as compared to parties that have lost at the national level during simultaneous elections. The Congress’ vote share in both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in 2004 and 2009 is indicative of the same. In 2014, it was the BJP’s turn in Andhra Pradesh, Odish, and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Regional parties contesting alone have not lost vote share in Lok Sabha only when there was a strong wave in their favour. BJD’s Lok Sabha election vote share in 2014 in Odisha and TRS’ Lok Sabha vote share in 2014 in Telangana are indicative of the same.
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