In a busy week for Emerging Market (EM) elections, both India and South Africa have been in electoral mode. In what was a predictable result across South Africa, with a good voter turnout, the “born frees” (those born since democracy arrived in South Africa) certainly didn’t show apathy. India’s election, on the other hand, is a much more drawn out affair.
The 2014 Indian general election is taking place in nine phases, the longest election in the country’s history from 7 April to 12 May, 2014. Voting will take place in all 543 of the country’s parliamentary constituencies, to elect members of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the legislature). The result of this election will be declared on 16 May, before the 15th Lok Sabha completes its constitutional mandate on 31 May 2014.
According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the electoral population is 814.5 million, the largest in the world. This represents an increase of 100 million newly eligible voters since the last general election in 2009. Unsurprisingly 2014’s will be the longest and most expensive general election in the history of the country, with the ECI estimating the cost to the exchequer at US$5 billion*.
Meanwhile, according to a BBC News report on the issues faced in India, there is no computerized electoral roll in many areas and voters were identifying themselves by photo in a journal. No wonder it takes a month!
That said, whereas the Democratic Alliance may complain about the South African voter queues at some polling stations, the Independent Electoral Commission runs a relatively efficient show. However, the logistics of 25.3 million registered voters (from 31.4 million eligible voters) is slightly different to India’s 814.5 million eligible voters, 23,5 million of whom are between 18 – 19 years old.
The Indian election is primarily a contest between Narendra Modi, leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of the governing Congress Party. Interestingly, the leader of the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Arvind Kejriwal, is attracting a lot of attention also. In South Africa, the contest is primarily within the ANC, with anti-corruption being the main agenda point.
* [Source: Time Magazine – April 2014]
[Source of Charts: Wikipedia and the India Election Commission, 2014]