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

National Election Study 2009Subscribe to National Election Study 2009

Maharashtra: Congress-NCP Manages Victory

A changing party system, fragmentation of social blocs, arrival of caste-based identity politics and material frustrations leading to the formation of several rebel groups within the various political parties - all these helped the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine record a default win in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra. This was achieved despite a mixed opinion on the state government's track record. The alliance has its task cut out for the upcoming assembly elections in the state and no longer can traditional bases of support be counted upon, especially by the Congress Party.

Manipur: Congress Triumphant

The Congress pulled off victories in both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, a feat it had last accomplished in 1996. Territorial integrity of the state, insurgency, human rights and repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 were the major campaign issues. A pro-Congress sentiment is widespread in the state as is the opinion that the Naga-dominated areas should not be separated from it. The election was also notable for a higher turnout because of non-interference by insurgency groups.

Urban Patterns of Voting and Party Choices

A perusal of urban voting trends in the NES 2009 survey hints at the weakening of the urban voter base of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Many among the urban poor prefer the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, while the BJP has lost support even among the urban middle classes.

Are National Elections Any More Than Aggregations of State-Level Verdicts?

Mining data from the National Election Study, this paper cites evidence to show that the perception of the central government mattered for those who voted for the United Progressive Alliance, but not for those who voted for the National Democratic Alliance or other parties. It says that the vote for the upa was mostly independent of a voter's perception of the performance of his or her state government. In addition, even after controlling for state-specific factors there were some political cleavages that influenced the vote for the upa and the nda. This suggests that national factors did have an influence on the vote for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections though state-level factors continued to be important.

Mizoram: The Congress Holds Its Ground

In the elections to the lone seat in the Lok Sabha from Mizoram, the Congress continued to enjoy the support that helped it win in the December 2008 assembly elections. Voters privileged the performance of the state government rather than that in the centre while choosing their representative from Mizoram.

Meghalaya: Verdict on Expected Lines

The results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections in the two parliamentary constituencies of Meghalaya were on expected lines - with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party retaining their zones of influence. The margins of victory however threw a few surprises - with the NCP candidate in Tura winning by a small margin, compared to the emphatic win scored by the Congress candidate in Shillong.

Bihar: Development Matters

The robust victory of the ruling Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party combine in Bihar owes much to the developmental policies adopted by the Nitish Kumar-led government. That said, the victory was also made possible because of the shrewd use of community and caste-based support by the alliance, which the divided opposition could not achieve.

Nagaland: Behind the Curtain

The Nagaland People's Front won the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state, defeating prominent Congress and Trinamool Congress rivals. It was, in a sense, an endorsement for Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio's Eastern Nagaland policy that the electorate gave weight to the performance of the regional party when voting for its representative from the state. However, all is not well with the democratic process in Nagaland, where village councils and other local bodies flex their muscles to ensure votes go to candidates of their choice.

Electoral Participation among the Adivasi Community

Discussing the variations in electoral participation and party preferences of adivasis, a subject that has received scant attention so far, this article points out that it is erroneous to treat the adivasi vote as a homogeneous block. As with other communities, adivasis also display a remarkable heterogeneity in their voter turnout and party preferences. Focusing on adivasis in the north-east and central India, it examines regional differences in the adivasi voter turnout and their changing party preferences since the 2004 election.

The Economy and Voting in the 15th Lok Sabha Elections

This examination of the effect of both "national" and "personal" conditions in the economy on voting decisions in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections demonstrates that the perceptions of people on economic issues do matter in deciding whom they vote for. A vote for the incumbent party depends on the well-being of the national economy as well as the individual household. Voting decisions are based on retrospective evaluations of the economic condition. Expectations of the economy in the future did not show a significant effect on voting decisions. While both national and personal considerations have an effect on voting, the latter seem to matter more to Indian voters than the former. An implication of these findings is that political parties cannot afford to be indifferent to the economic perceptions of voters.

Fifth Victory in a Row for CPI(M) in Tripura

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) won both the Lok Sabha seats in Tripura by handsome margins for the fifth consecutive time. The party has a distinct social character and support among all sections of the state's population unlike its nearest rival, the Congress, which has not been able to project itself as a viable alternative. Yet, there are clouds on the CPI(M)'s horizon with the issues of Bengali migration and alienation of tribal lands becoming important, and the emergence of insurgent groups highlighting the welfare of the indigenous people.

On the Electoral Process

Two highlights of the 2009 Lok Sabha election were that it was held following a fresh delimitation of constituencies and that it involved the use of photo electoral rolls. A great many professed faith in the necessity of elections and the value of their vote, but many also expressed distrust of their elected representatives and supported the idea of being governed by experts not answerable to elected representatives. This dichotomy could be an expression of voters' frustration but nevertheless is a cause for concern.

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