Friday, May 7, 2010

Why people vote for winning parties only...

During the and after 2009 elections we heard many people talking about this trend. Some of the smaller parties even tried to project this trend as irrational and ignorant behavior of voters. For me, it makes logical sense and confirms the belief that, man by nature is rational. Our rationality and decisions depend on how much we know and understand.
For the ordinary voter, it is all about electing the best among the available choices. That’s why ordinary voters many a times, want to see if the party they like has a decent chance of winning.  (as simple as people liking a fancy car but still buying the best one amongst the popularly accepted cars as that will give them a wider service network and re-sale option) Let’s examine this in the context of our “First past the post system” with an example.

Take a scenario of two main parties A and B and a start up PartyC. If the voter likes partyC and knows that C did not have a decent chance to win:

Option I: Vote for Party C and express where he stands
Staunch supporters of PartyC who do not see any difference between the other two parties will choose Option I

Option II: Vote for party A, and prevent party B from winning (Thinking A is a better party than B)
Most of the common voters will choose option II and hope that PartyC will gather the critical mass in future. Most of the fence sitters and neutral voters will end up taking option II. (Mind you they are not simply joining the band wagon of winning party)

("Not voting at all" is not an option anyway in my opinion and it is totally a different subject, hopefully to be discussed in my future posts.)

What are the options for PartyC? Do we have a fair chance to challenge the Status quo?
This is a legitimate and important question. We can take a radically different approach and clamor for a proportional representation system. That’s a bigger question, hopefully we might discuss in this blog in future. 

But the more sensible approach is to see how we address this in the existing system. A smaller party is supposed to represent some aspirations and ideas in the society. They have to convince enough number of people and create the momentum for themselves. But this is too difficult and is giving an unfair advantage to existing parties. The smaller party will get the required support from people in due course of time, if they have enough patience and commitment to their ideas.

Another option in our system is to merge with one of the mainstream parties and work as a pressure group within that party. Suppose PartyC in our case with 3 lakh votes across the state, ends up losing the election badly. In this case party C will not have any influence on the ruling party and the government. This means 3 lakh people are not getting their fair share of participation. But a group which has 3 lakh supporters will have enough power and influence on any mainstream party, if it is a part of it. That way the idea can garner its fair share of consideration and can definitely influence the existing parties. After all political parties are supposed to represent various thoughts in the society and balance them to deliver the results.

Weekend Politician Note: I hope this post is helpful to at least some of the readers. Please feel free to post your opinions and questions so that we can discuss various aspects of this issue. I would be delighted to see different perspectives as that gives us a chance to understand the issue better.  


  1. Hi Weekend politician,..

    Firstly.. Good Blog! Congratulations..

    Recently we had BBMP (Brihat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike) elections. Congress distributed 1000 Rs cash per person. BJP gave one bag of rice and Janata Party gave.. silver anklets for women.

    We took all from everybody.. and voted for Janata as it bribed only women.. Families having no women got no bribe.. :-) Just Kidding..

    On a serious . This is the typical case of election scenario in our country.

    My opinion..

    a) Some vote for party which is 'giving' in nature.. during elections.

    b) And some vote for the party which stands for an ideology that they believe in..

    c) Some vote valueing the person (no matter which party he stands for -- people who achieve their high point in their career.. for eg. Satyam Raju before he was exposed,.. or Satyasai al)

    d) Party/Person Caste, Creed,Religion, any other community/social group that the voter belongs to.

    e) Some vote carelessly.. blindly..

    f) For individual charisma... (Actors fall in this category)

    g) Very few vote .. thinking about the country.. who can do good it it.

    h) any other miscellaneous reasons.

    ****** Not necessariliy in the order described above..


  2. One can take money for votes at the cost of ones own self respect. But the main issues are:

    1. Why so many of our fellow Indians are selling their self respect for a few hundreds (May be thousands now a days)? this is the issue we need to address. If most of them are given an opportunity to earn a decent living then the cost becomes prohibitory for the corrupt politicians...

    2. Why educated middle class folks are not attaching the required seriousness to election process. How long do we need to allow the benefit of low expectations to the politicians !!!

  3. I agree with you for the people's way of thinking. But what i feel is If a good Ideological Parties may not win the elections on the first or the second attempt but it definitely win on fourth or fifth attempt. What i strongly believe is that Ideological parties should not join the traditional parties for the sake of wining elections.

  4. vask006 --> Thank you for your comment. I agree with you.

    I am just trying to throw up ideas on getting proper representation for every thought in the political system.

    I view political parties as the property of common people like you and me rather than exclusive properties of some of those so called big guys.

    If the parties are our property then we can even consider reforming them as well...

  5. This debate, or argument rather, fires up every time I try convincing someone who feels that s/he wasted their vote by voting for a minnow - by conscience not coercion. I examined and interviewed a few in my circle who subscribed to this logic for deciding their vote. They all said they naturally felt happy if the party and/or the candidate they voted for won the elections. To them elections weren't much different from a sporting event - e.g. a cricket match. In an Ind Vs Aus cricket match we all, quite naturally, cheer for India and are exulted if India wins. Say if midway through the match its apparent that India is losing, do we stop cheering for India and cheer for opposition ? We don't. We know we didn't, on numerous occasions. Then how come we sell our souls and vote for a party/candidate whom we disagree with just because he is more likely to win? They fumbled when asked.

    IMO its false pride and satisfaction that most such fickle, ignorant and uneducated folks cherish by "voting for a winning party" and not strategic analysis that influences their decision.