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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

How did BJP remain far from majority? This is how voters changed sides in Lok Sabha elections, understand from these figures


In the 2024 election battle, the ruling BJP at the Centre fell short of a majority. However, the NDA alliance led by them was definitely successful. After this election, the discussion about floating voters started again. About half of India’s voters are floating voters. They change their choice in every election. It is difficult to measure the swing vote. All this is true for both Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

Highlights

  • Discussion on floating voters intensifies after 2024 elections
  • Nearly half the voters in the country are floating voters
  • These voters keep changing their choice in every election
  • Whether it is Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha, swing vote has an impact
Writer: Atanu Biswas
It is said that democracy is like roti on a pan. Voters must constantly flip it to prevent it from burning. But does this mean that voters should elect a new government every five years? No, not at all. But we do see ‘flipping’ every time a government changes or its strength increases or decreases significantly through the electoral process. Even if there is no actual change in the party in power and its strength, some form of ‘flipping’ is a constant process in democracy. The number of seats BJP has in 2024 is 63 less than in 2019, while the number of seats Congress has increased by 47. But is that the whole story? In fact, this time, an MP from a different party has been elected on about 209 out of 543 seats, which is 38.4 per cent of the total seats, compared to 2019.

keep turning

If four out of 10 MPs are elected from a different party than the previous election, isn’t that a change? But this happens in practically every election. For example, the BJP got only 21 more seats in 2019 than in 2014 and the Congress got just 8. Still, it is important to note that 187 constituencies, or a staggering 34.4 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats, elected MPs from a different party in 2019 than in 2014. For example, the number of seats held by Bengal’s current ruling party, the TMC, in 2021 remained largely unchanged from the previous election, as the BJP completely replaced the Left and the Congress as the opposition in the state. However, the real poribortan (change) went beyond this. 129 out of a total of 292 constituencies, or 44 per cent, saw winners from a different party than in 2016.

Similarly, when the DMK-led coalition returned to power in Tamil Nadu in 2021, there was a change in 111 out of 234 assembly seats, or 47.4 percent. In 2021, the winners were from different parties compared to 2016.

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keep counting

The proportion of people who changed their voting choices is difficult to measure. The BJP’s vote share fell by only 0.8 per cent in 2024, while the Congress’s overall share increased by only 1.8 per cent. The SP’s vote share increased by 2 per cent. Perhaps a fraction of a percentage point in the vote share of the majority of other parties shifted in the other direction. Adding them, of course, would mean that, at most, 10-12 per cent of the country’s voters changed their voting choice.

Understanding the situation

If you add up the percentage of vote shifts for each political party in each state, you will get a large proportion of shifting votes. If you repeat the process for each constituency, the number will go up further. Additionally, if the data from all the EVMs in the country is combined with the results of previous elections, one can get a lower limit on the percentage of votes that have shifted. However, this will only be a ‘lower limit’ because there are countless instances in which one voter moved from party A to party B, some other voter moved from party B to party C. Similarly a third voter moved from party C to party A, leaving the total count unchanged. Additionally, some old voters drop out and some new voters enter the democratic practice. Thus, the dynamics are also affected.

navbharat timesThis time, think carefully… Why does BJP need to strike a balance with introspection?

keep on rolling

The percentage of floating voters should be quite significant. Also, how did the vote share of the Congress fall from 28.5 per cent in 2009 to around 19 per cent in 2014? In this regard, Bengal is a prime example. The Left Front won an incredible 37 per cent of the vote in 2006 and maintained a handsome 30 per cent share even after Mamata Banerjee routed them in 2011. But, by 2021, the Left’s percentage has fallen to less than 5 per cent, and in 2024 it is 5.67 per cent. So, one estimate is that more than 50 per cent – possibly 60 per cent – of all voters are floating voters, meaning they are open to changing their voting preferences. In fact, a 2014 CSDS study also concluded that 43 per cent of Indian voters go with the ‘wind’.

navbharat timesMy prediction proved wrong, I am ready to apologize… Prashant Kishore said on BJP’s claim of 300 seats

Global impact

What about other countries? According to Linda Killian’s 2012 book The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents, the largest voting bloc of the US electorate is Independents, at 40%. These voters occupy a wide range of political and ideological space and have influenced the outcome of every election since World War II. And their numbers are increasing. According to the British Election Study, British voters are also ‘floating’. In the three elections between 2010 and 2017, 49% of UK voters did not vote for the same party. However, 43% of voters switched parties between 2010 and 2015. It makes sense that the actual percentage of floating voters would be higher because a floating voter may not necessarily have supported another party. Political parties are fully aware of this. If not, who would they target in their election campaigns? Therefore, the bread of democracy must be constantly turned. The higher the flame, the more often it has to be turned. This is all to prevent burning. The wind can be felt, or it can be spectacular. But change always blows in the wind of democracy.
(The author is Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata)

Ruchir Shukla

About the Author

Ruchir Shukla

Ruchir Shukla has been associated with presswire18 Times Online since February 2020. First he/she worked in a news agency, then TV journalism and then entered digital media. he/she has been working in digital media for nearly 10 years. he/she has a special interest in all kinds of news like politics, crime, positive news. The process of learning and understanding is continuing.… Read more
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