On September 1, the Central government constituted a committee to give a report on electoral reform to conduct general and State elections simultaneously, creating a lot of hue and cry in the country. While one section of people argue that this will bring down the election expenditure and help in a smoother functioning of the system, others say that recurrent elections allow voters to have their voices heard more frequently.
businessline’s analysis of election data from 2004 to 2019 shows that when State and general elections happen at the same time in a State, people cast their vote for the same party. The analysis, however, hasn’t taken bypolls into account. We have also not looked at State elections that happened in the same year as general elections, but not simultaneously.
Vote for the same party
In April 2019, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had his chance at the Andhra Pradesh legislative elections. His party YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) was then eight years old and had lost to the Telugu Desam Party in 2014.
But 2019 was YSRCP’s year. The Lok Sabha and the State legislature elections were held in April that year and it was a clean sweep for Jagan’s party. While it won 151 out of 175 State assembly seats, it won 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
But the trend is not unique to Andhra Pradesh and YSRCP. In 2019, three other States — Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim — had the general and State elections simultaneously. Same parties won majority seats in both elections in all these States.
This also happened in almost all States that had simultaneous State and general elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014 too. The only exception was Arunachal Pradesh in 2014. While the Indian National Congress won 42 out of the 60 legislature seats, Congress and BJP won one Lok Sabha constituency each in the State.
This trend was also noted by the IDFC Institute in one of its studies. Their analysis of election data from 1999 to 2014 showed that on an average, there is a 77 per cent chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the State and Centre, when elections are held simultaneously.
This practice of simultaneous elections was followed in India immediately after Independence, from 1951-52 to 1967. However, this was discontinued subsequently due to the premature dissolution of State assemblies. Most State legislature elections do not coincide with the general elections in India currently.