ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Debating Electoral Systems

The first-past-the-post system remains preferable over proportional representation.

Despite winning only 31% of the vote share, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has obtained as many as 282 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This is the lowest vote share ever for a party with a majority in the Lok Sabha. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as a whole managed 331 seats with a mere 38.2% vote share. These facts have been played up by some critics of the new government, who have argued that despite the numbers in the Lok Sabha this government does not represent the majority of Indians. That at the same time many parties which have recorded substantial vote shares have won few or no seats has led to the questioning of the “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) system of Indian elections and calls for proportional representation.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won 71 out of the 80 seats with a 42% vote share while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) could not win even one seat though it obtained 20% of the votes. At the national level, the BSP won the third highest vote share of 4.2% but ended up without a single seat in the Lok Sabha. On the other hand, parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with 3.8%, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) with 3.3% and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with 1.7% of the votes got 34, 37 and 20 seats, respectively.

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