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.