Political Parties in South Asia (Political Parties in Context)

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Based on each barycentre of the parliamentary constituencies, we generate new continuous surfaces for each election between and The spatial interpolation allows us to have a common unit of comparison when using different data structures. To better understand the spatial diffusion of vote we also measured spatial autocorrelation of vote for each coalition at each election.

We use the Moran Index to give a global measure of the spatial distribution of vote shares. Spatial autocorrelation measures how nearby observations of the same phenomenon are correlated. A coefficient close to 1 shows a strong spatial autocorrelation. Similar voting shares either high or low tend to be spatially clustered. A coefficient close to 0 shows a random spatial pattern while a coefficient close to 1 indicates a spatial dispersion.

Comparing the different values of Moran Index taken by each coalition will give us a better understanding of the spatial trend of each coalition. But due to its geographical deficits Arora 93 resulting from social and ideological factors, the BJP did not achieve a Congress-type dominance and did not succeed in emerging as a single national alternative since the Congress party remained a potent force in most states.

Previous coalitions in and represented the opposition between the Congress and all the other parties and did not have the federal character of the NDA and later UPA. The BJP leadership then envisioned a strong and large pre-electoral coalition for the General Elections held at the end of The BJP was then the largest party on the national stage but it needed allies to remain in power.


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In the long term, the BJP was also interested in building partnerships with state-level parties in order to expand its base. The success of this strategy in Maharashtra or in Karnataka reinforced this position. It came with a good performance in northern Himalayan constituencies and in Goa-North Karnataka region. Comparing the geography of vote share between the BJP and its allies Map 2 , we can observe a complementary spatial distribution between the two.

In this election BJP was at its peak in terms of vote share, seats, as well as spatial distribution.

The Complicated Rise of India’s Regional Parties - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Hoping to become a real pan Indian party, the BJP filed more candidates, contesting in constituencies as against in This expansion was at the cost of NDA coalition partners. From 17 parties in , the NDA went down to 12 parties in As seen from Map 3, saw a decline of the NDA coalition in terms of vote share and seats minus 89 seats. The BJP won only seats, compared to in Comparing the maps of and shows that the BJP vote share was no longer expanding, and was rather eroding in several states: Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

In addition, NDA allies failed to deliver and suffered a massive blow. The TDP went down from 29 seats in to four seats in Wherever the BJP decided to go on its own, the party was defeated.

Flags of political parties for sale - Lok Sabha Elections 2014

In Uttar Pradesh the party lost more than two million votes between the two elections. However, in Maharashtra and Punjab, where the BJP allied with old partners, the party was successful in expanding its support base i. More parties left the NDA coalition, now down to eight parties. Even though the BJP filed more candidates than ever before in , the party could not avoid another defeat.

The BJP lost close to 7. The BJP has established itself as the main party of Karnataka politics with a support base of more than 10 million voters now While maps give a visual account of this trend, the comparison of Moran Index for each election gives us a measure of such spatial withdrawal.

The measures show a positive spatial autocorrelation. But over the years, the Moran Index is increasing, indicating that the vote tends to be more and more concentrated in some regions. Interestingly while BJP autocorrelation stabilized around 0. We can explain such trends by the decreasing number of parties involved with the NDA: NDA spatial distribution over India is less and less homogeneous. Table 1. Moran Index for NDA vote share. Coalitions are not static but characterized by internal ongoing bargaining.

This is especially true in the Indian political system, where the quick succession of elections at the local, state and national levels leads coalition partners to continuously reassess their strategies and their position within the coalition. Indeed coalitions still structure party politics at both state and national levels. By securing only seats at the Lok Sabha, the party was no longer the first party of Indian politics.

Many Congress insiders had believed that the party could still win an election on its own and without a strong pre-electoral coalition. Although saw some local agreements over joint-list in Tamil Nadu or in Kerala, no proper pre-electoral coalition was put in place. Hitting a low in terms of seats, the Congress was still a major contender in many parts of India with regard to vote share.

Comparing the geography of BJP and Congress vote share is very instructive in that regard. By refusing to build a pre-electoral coalition, the Congress failed to translate its strong scores into seats. Because of the geography of its support base, building a pre-electoral coalition was more difficult for the Congress than for the BJP. The Congress had more at stake in the painful negotiations involved in building the pre-electoral coalitions. In Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand it succeeded in building joint-list with newly formed parties.

In states like Bihar and Tamil Nadu, the Congress was no longer a threat to local parties. Because of all these new alliances, the number of Congress candidates in was lower than in from to , and the vote share of the party, at But overall the pre-electoral coalition was a success. Because the Congress had to leave some constituencies to its partners, its vote share declined in Maharashtra from Overall the Congress secured 34 more seats in than in Compared to the NDA landslide of , the UPA success seems overall less impressive and less cohesive with regards to the geography of vote for the Congress and its allies.

But this is partly due, as we said, to the more scattered spatial distribution of Congress vote compared to BJP vote. The Congress lost some allies and picked up some new ones: 12 parties were part of UPA pre-electoral coalition. This volatility of the UPA coalition can be explained by a series of political moves. One, the long term objective of the Congress in northern Indian states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is to rebuild its support base to come back to power.

Therefore the party claimed more seats for itself in Bihar, but considering its poor performance at the previous polls, the LJP and RJD declined the request.

Two, following the general elections, the UPA had relied on outside support for governing and in particular on the Left Front. This support came to an end in on the issue of the nuclear deal between India and USA. Contrary to , the Congress in did not retreat from constituencies where Left front parties where in a good position to win. Map 5. The Moran Index for Congress is decreasing between and , and it is increasing between and After withdrawing from several constituencies between and , the votes polled for Congress tend to be less clustered.

Between and , the Congress was competing in more constituencies against , particularly in northern India, thus leading to a slight increase of Moran Index. Table 2. Moran Index for UPA vote share. While much has been written on the importance of disproportionate electoral systems or the ideological distance between parties in the formation of pre-electoral coalitions, this paper explores the importance of different geographical bases of support in the composition and sustainability of Indian pre-electoral coalitions, election after election.

Prior to the general elections the party was particularly strong in central and northern India, and in a position to govern at the national level. It could be the vehicle for regional parties mostly from southern and eastern India to gain leverage in New Delhi. But because the BJP remained out of power at the national level and lost its grasp on its Central India stronghold in , it had little to offer in terms of vote base.

The Complicated Rise of India’s Regional Parties

Between and the BJP lost 1. At the state and at the national levels, the Congress always had votes and constituencies over which to bargain with its allies.


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  • The party does not depend as much as the BJP on its coalition partners. Whereas the Congress is managing somehow to maintain itself as a pan Indian organization, the BJP is still struggling to establish itself as a national party with a pan Indian distribution. However this study of Indian elections underlines the resilience of competition between parties belonging to the same pre-poll alliance.

    On the other hand, extreme competitiveness is not in their long-term interest either, although it is the best strategy for coalition members interested in short-term gains. The ideal strategy for those who seek long-term increases in their influence is a mixture of competition and cooperation, as shown by Bueno de Mesquita 1.

    Finally, the Indian case also reminds us that coalitions are more likely to win elections when their size in number of parties is large but characterized by a significant size difference between the coalition partners.

    Mehra; D. Khanna; Gert W. Kueck eds. Chatterjee, Partha ed. Colomer, Joseph M. Fickett, Lewis P. Hansen, Thomas Blom; Jaffrelot, Christophe eds. Yesilada ed. Essays in Honor of Samuel J.

    About the group

    Verney eds. Mehra, Ajay K. For the foreseeable future, it is unimaginable that a single party could form the government in New Delhi—a testament enough to this tectonic shift. There is an unfortunate, unswerving progression to the conventional narrative, which treats regional parties as constantly on the rise, acquiring greater political space. In fact, there are a number of trends that indicate regional parties may not be the juggernauts many observers make them out to be. A common myth about regional parties is that their rise, by definition, has eroded—and continues to erode—the stature of national parties.

    But in reality, after a period of unprecedented growth in the standing of regional parties during the late s and early s, the pattern of electoral competition at the national level has achieved a surprisingly stable balance of power. The share of votes won by regional parties cracked the 50 percent mark for the first time in Then the engine sputtered somewhat.

    By , vote share of regional parties had dipped to 48 percent. By , their vote share crept back up to 51 percent, the same level it had been eight years earlier, before modestly rising again in the elections. In , for instance, less than a quarter of electoral districts were won with a majority of votes. The net result has often been regional parties crowding out other rival regional parties.

    See, for example, the electoral impact of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party, which took votes away from its key regional rival, the Shiv Sena, in the state of Maharashtra. And competition between upstart and established Telugu regional parties in Andhra Pradesh redounded to the benefit of the Congress Party.

    The Dawn of India’s Fourth Party System

    The increasingly fragmented vote has affected the share of seats won by regional parties in Lok Sabha elections. At present, regional parties occupy 41 percent of the seats—the same share they held in This is actually a decline from the two previous election cycles. One way in which regional parties were believed to threaten national parties was by developing into national players in their own right.

    However, this fear has not come to pass, as even the most prominent regional parties have had difficulty parlaying their regional standings into national success.