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Issue of simultaneous polls with law panel: Govt

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Elections

 

Source: ThePrint

Context:

The issue of holding simultaneous parliamentary and Assembly polls has been referred to the Law Commission so that a practicable roadmap and framework can be worked out.

In its draft report, the 21st Law Commission had said it was convinced that “there exists a viable environment, necessitating the holding of simultaneous elections to the House of the People and the State Legislatures. Simultaneous elections can be seen as a solution to prevent the country from being in constant election mode.”

About Simultaneous Elections:

Simultaneous Election (SE) is an exercise of the democratic process wherein the elections to the various house (Lok Sabha and state assemblies) and bodies are synchronized together to have more efficiency and save expenditure.

In India, SE was the norm till 1967, however, more recently Niti Aayog, Law Commission Report, and our Prime minister have pushed for SE to make the election in India a meaningful democratic exercise.

Benefits of having SE:

  • Reduce Policy paralysis: Imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) over the state for a longer period of time leads to stoppage of developmental programs.
  • Reduce huge expenditures on elections: Around Rs 55,000crore ($8 billion), was spent during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections (as per the report by the Centre for Media Studies)
    • SE can help reduce it by conducting the synchronized election for states and the Centre at the same time
  • Reduce the disruption of public life: Regular elections impact the functioning of essential services such as regular transport, prices of essentials, etc.
  • Reduce the impact on social fabric: Elections are known to perpetuate religion, caste, corruption, and communal tensions.
  • Reduce the impact of populist measures: Populist measures are often not in sync with the economic principles and have a narrow vision of immediate electoral gains.
  • Increase voter turnout: Frequent election leads to voters’ exhaustion and reduces their participation in the democratic process.

limitations to SE:

  • Limitation of democratic principles:Curtailing the terms of the existing legislature to synchronize the election will undermine democracy and federalism.
  • Limitation of Voter Behaviour:Some political scientists’ say voters may be influenced to vote on national issues (thus benefiting national parties) even for State elections, thereby diluting electoral neutrality
  • Limitation of Accountability:Frequent election ensures political and developmental accountability of parties in power. But SE might dilute that.
  • Constitutional limitation: SE would require amendment in the provisions of the constitution, RPA 1951, and ratification by states. It may be hard to get in a multiparty and diverse country like India.

 

Some countries where Simultaneous Elections are successfully implemented:

SE are successfully held in South Africa (national and provincial), and Sweden (including local election as well on the same day).

 

Insta Links

One nation, one election

 

Practice Questions

Q. In view of the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, discuss the advantages that its implementation would lead to and the concerns that it raises. (250 words)