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June 24, 2015

Milan Vaishnav Writes on Continuity and Change in Voter Behaviour

In a recent paper, Dr. Milan Vaishnav, Associate in the South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, examines Indian voter behaviour, a topic he also recently discussed in an IDFC-U discussion on "New Rules for Indian Politics"?

In the paper he writes:


"The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) historic victory in India’s 2014 general election prompted declarations of a watershed in the behavior of the Indian voter. Upon closer inspection, the reality is more nuanced. On some parameters, such as voting based on economic and ethnic considerations, there were indeed discernible changes. However, the empirical evidence suggests these shifts were well under way before 2014. In other areas—namely, support for regional parties, dynastic politicians, and candidates associated with criminal activity—contemporary voters demonstrated much greater continuity with the past..."


  • Good economics can make for good politics in India... macroeconomic realities are increasingly relevant.
  • ... recent electoral trends reveal a surprising degree of stability in the balance of power between national and regional parties.
  • Dynastic politics may not be popular, but dynastic politicians are. At least one in five members of parliament elected in 2014 came from a political family.
  • Indian voters have a long history of electing politicians who are the subject of ongoing criminal cases. The 2014 results demonstrate an underlying demand for politicians who can get things done—even if they are connected with wrongdoing.
  • When voters cast their vote, they do not necessarily vote their caste. Social biases remain entrenched in India, but the transmission of those biases into the political domain is imperfect and may be weakening."

His video interview on the topic with IDFC Institute's Swapnil Bhandari is below:


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