NCERT Class 9 Political Science(Civics) Chapter 3 Notes Social Science ELECTORAL POLITICS
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Why do we need elections?
Mechanism by which people can choose their representatives at regular intervals and change them if they wish to do so This Mechanism is called election.
Elections are considered essential in our times for any representative democracy.
In an election the voters make many choices.
- They can choose who will make laws for them.
- They can choose who will form the government and take major decisions.
- They can choose the party whose policies will guide the government and law making.
What makes an election democratic?
Conditions of a democratic election
- First, everyone should be able to choose. This means that everyone should have one vote and every vote should have equal value.
- Second, there should be something to choose from. Parties and candidates should be free to contest elections and should offer some real choice to the voters.
- Third, the choice should be offered at regular intervals. Elections must be held regularly after every few years.
- Fourth, the candidate preferred by the people should get elected.
- Fifth, elections should be conducted in a free and fair manner where people can choose as they really wish.
Is it good to have political competition?
Elections are thus all about political competition. Electoral competition has many demerits.
- It creates a sense of disunity and factionalism in every locality.
- Different political parties and leaders often level allegations against one another.
- Parties and candidates often use dirty tricks to win elections.
- Some good people who may wish to serve the country do no enter this arena.
They do not like the idea of being dragged into unhealthy competition.
- Regular electoral competition provides incentives to political parties and leaders.
- If they fail to satisfy the voters with their work they will not be able to win again.
- If a political party is motivated only by desire to be in power, even then it will be forced to serve the people.
Political competition may cause divisions and some ugliness, but it finally helps to force political parties and leaders to serve the people.
What is our system of elections?
- The country is divided into different areas for purposes of elections. These areas are called electoral constituencies.
- Lok Sabha elections, The country is divided into 543 constituencies. The representative elected from each constituency is called a Member of Parliament or an MP.
- The features of a democratic election is that every vote have equal value.
- State is divided into a specific number of Assembly constituencies.
- The elected representative is called the Member of Legislative Assembly or a MLA.
- The same principle applies for Panchayat and Municipal elections.
- Each village or town is divided into several ‘wards’ that are like constituencies.
- Each ward elects one member of the village or the urban local body.
- Some constituencies are reserved for people who belong to the Scheduled Castes [ST].
- In a SC reserved constituency only someone who belongs to the Scheduled Castes can stand for election. Similarly only those belonging to the Scheduled tribes can contest and election from a constituency reserved for ST.
- Currently, in the Lok Sabha, 84 seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 47 for the Scheduled Tribes (as on 26 January 2019.
- The reserved seats for SC and ST do not take away the legitimate share of any other social group.
- In many states, seats in rural (panchayat) and urban (Municipalities and corporations) local bodies are now reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC) as well.
- In a democratic election, the list of those who are eligible to vote is prepared much before the election and given to everyone.
- This list is officially called the Electoral Roll is officially called the Electoral Roll and is commonly known as the Voter’s List.
- Everyone should get an equal opportunity to choose representatives. The principle of universal adult franchise.
- In practice it means that everyone should have one vote and each vote should have equal value.
- No one should be denied the right to vote without a good reason.
- All the citizens aged 18 years and above can vote in an election.
- Every citizen has the right to vote, regardless of his or her caste religion or gender. Some criminals and persons with unsound min can be denied the right to vote.
Responsibility of the government
- Get the names of all the eligible voters put on the voters list.
- New persons attain voting age names are added to the voters’ list.
- Names of those who move out of a place or those who are dead are deleted.
- A complete revision of the list takes place every five years.
- This is done to ensure that it remains up to date.
Nomination of candidates
- Political parties nominate their candidates who get the party symbol and support.
- Party’s nomination is often called party ‘ticket’. Nomination form, every person who wishes to contest an election has to fill a nomination form and give some money as security deposit.
- Party Nomination a candidate the minimum age is 25 years.
A new system of declaration has been introduced on direction from the Supreme Court. Every candidate has to make a legal declaration, giving full details of:
- Serious criminal cases pending against the candidate.
- Details of the assets and liabilities of the candidate and his or her family.
- Educational qualifications of the candidate.
This information has to be made public.
- Election campaign is necessary to have a free and open discussion about who is a better government or what is a good policy.
- In our country such campaigns take place for a two-week period between the announcement of the final list of candidates and the date of polling.
Some of the successful slogans given by different political parties in various elections.
- The Congress party led by Indira Gandhi gave the slogan of Garibi Hatao (Remove poverty) in the Lok Sabha elections of 1971.
- Save Democracy was the slogan given by Janata Party under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, in the Lok Sabha election held in 1977.
- The Left Front used the slogan of Land to the Tiller in the West Bengal Assembly elections held in 1977.
- Protect the Self-Respect of the Telugus was the slogan used by N T Rama Rao, the leader of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections in 1983.
According to our election law, No party or candidate can:
- Bribe or threaten voters.
- Appeal to them in the name of caste or religion.
- Use government resources for election campaign.
- Spend more than Rs. 25 Lakh in a constituency for a Lok Sabha election or Rs. 10 Lakh in a constituency in an Assembly election.
If they do so, their election can be rejected by the court even after they have been declared elected.
Code of Conduct
According to this, no party or candidate can:
- Use any place of worship for election propaganda.
- Use government vehicles, aircrafts and officials for elections.
- Once elections are announced, Ministers shall not lay foundation stones of any projects, take any big policy decisions or make any promises of providing public facilities.
Polling and Counting of Votes
- The final stage of an election is the day when the voters cast or ‘poll’ their vote.
- That day is usually called the election day.
- Earlier the voters used to indicate who they wanted to vote for by putting a stamp on the ballot paper.
- A ballot paper is sheet of paper on which the names of the contesting candidates along with party name and symbols are listed.
- Nowadays electronic voting machines (EVM) are used to record votes.
- The machine shows the names of the candidates and the party symbols.
- Once the polling is over, all the EVMs are sealed and taken to a secure place.
- A few days later, on a fixed date, all the EVMs from a constituency are opened and the votes secured by each candidate are counted.
- The candidate who secures the highest number of votes from a constituency is declared elected.
What makes elections in India Democratic?
Independent Election Commission:
- In our country elections are conducted by an independent and very powerful Election Commission EC.
- It enjoys the same kind of independence that the judiciary enjoys.
- The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) is appointed by the President of India.
- Election Commissioner is not answerable to the President or the government.
- If the ruling party or the government does not like what the Commission does, It is impossible for it to remove the CEC.
- EC takes decisions on every aspect of conduct and control of elections from the announcement of elections to the declaration of results.
- It implements the Code of Conduct and punishes any candidate or party that violates it.
- During the election period, the EC can order the government to follow some guidelines, to prevent use and misuse of governmental power to enhance its chances to win elections, or to transfer some government officials.
- When on election duty, government officers work under the control of the EC and not the government.
When election officials come to the opinion that polling was not fair in some booths or even an entire constituency, they order a repoll.
- People’s participation in election is usually measured by voter turnout figures.
- Turnout indicates the per cent of eligible voters who actually cast their vote.
- Over the last fifty years, the turnout in Europe and North America has declined.
- In India the turnout has either remained stable or actually gone up.
- In India the poor, illiterate and underprivileged people vote in larger proportion as compared to the rich and privileged sections.
- Common people in India attach a lot importance to elections.
- They feel that through elections they can bring pressure on political parties to adopt policies and programmes favourable to them.
Increase in the Interest
- The interest of voters in election-related activities has been increasing over the years.
- During the 2004 elections, more than one-third voters took part in a campaign-related activities.
The outcome of India’s elections speaks for itself:
- The ruling parties routinely lose elections in India both at the national and state level. In fact in every to out of the three elections held in the last 25 years, the ruling party lost.
- In the US, an incumbent or ‘sitting’ elected representative rarely loses an election. In India about half of the sitting MPs or MLAs lose elections.
- Candidates who are known to have spent a lot of money on ‘buying votes’ and those with known criminal connections often lose elections.
- Barring very few disputed elections, the electoral outcomes are usually accepted as ‘people’s verdict’ by the defeated party.
Challenges to free and fair Elections
Elections in India are basically free and fair.
- Candidates and parties with a lot of money may not be sure of their victory but they do enjoy a big and unfair advantage over smaller parties and independents.
- In some parts of the country, candidates with criminal connection have been able to push others out of the electoral race and to secure a ‘ticket’ from major parties.
- Some families tend to dominate political parties tickets are distributed to relatives from these families.
- Very often election offer little choice to ordinary citizens, for both the major parties are quite similar to each other both in policies and practice.
- The 16th Lok Sabha has 12 per cent women members.
- The Election Commission often refuses to accept the government’s advice about when he elections should be held.
- The 16th Lok Sabha has more than 440 members whose assets are more than Rs. 1 crore.
- After losing an election the Chief Minister said “I respect the people’s verdict”.
Code of Conduct: A set of norms and guidelines to be followed by political parties and contesting candidates during election time.
Constituency: Voters in a geographical area who elect a representative to the legislative bodies.
Incumbent: The current holder of a political office. Usually the choice for the voters in elections is between the incumbent party or candidate and those who oppose them.
Level playing field: Condition in which all parties and candidates contesting in an election have equal opportunities to appeal for votes and to carry out election campaign.
Rigging: Fraud and malpractices indulged by a party or candidate to increase its votes. It includes stuffing ballot boxes by a few persons using the votes of others; recording multiple votes by the same person; and bribing or coercing polling officers to favour a candidate.
Turnout: The percentage of eligible voters who cast their votes in an election.
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