India needs a new electoral system, says CPI-M

New Delhi, Jan 30 :

India needs a new electoral system that must be a mix of proportional representation and the existing first-past-the-post system, the CPI-M said Thursday.

An editorial in “People’s Democracy” also challenged President Pranab Mukherjee’s suggestion that coalitions cause political instability, saying such a reading was against the experiment of Indian democracy.
Pointing out that only the 1971 election produced a government commanding over 50 percent of polled votes, it said all other governments had more people voting against them than supporting them.

The lowest was the 1998 Bharatiya Janata Party-led government whose alliance polled 36.2 percent of votes. In 2004, the Congress and BJP together got only 40 percent.

“This merits a serious consideration of the proportional representation system where people vote for the parties, who, in turn, will send to the parliament the number of MPs, on the basis of a prior-declared prioritised list, in proportion to votes they receive,” the CPI-M editorial said.

“Any government that is formed on this basis by a majority of MPs in parliament will necessarily reflect the majority as expressed by the electorate.”

The Communist Party of India-Marxist said often the example of governmental instability in Italy was cited as an argument against the proportional representation system.

But the editorial, still rooting for proportional representation, said it remains to be seen if this system would adequately reflect India’s diversity in parliament.

“In the Indian context, therefore, a combination of proportional representation with the present form may be ideal.

“This could be done, for instance, by clubbing two adjoining constituencies where people, with two votes, vote for individual candidates as well as the parties,” it said.

“People’s Democracy” said President Mukherjee was wrong when he stated in his Republic Day speech that stability can only be achieved when a government was not “hostage to whimsical opportunists”, thereby suggesting that coalitions can be subject to such pressures and, hence, instability.

“Such a conclusion runs contrary to the experience of our parliamentary democracy for more than two decades now.

“Coalition governments, by the very nature of Indian politics, have become the order of the day.

“Often the large number of parties and contestants in the fray is making many draw conclusions of fragmentation of Indian democracy.

“On the contrary, the large number of regional parties and those representing various sectional interests is only the reflection of the vast diversity of India’s social reality in its polity.

“This must be seen as the process of maturation, not regression, of Indian democracy.”

The editorial added: “As Indian democracy matures, such fine tuning must be seriously undertaken by the government that follows these (Lok Sabha) elections.”


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