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Simultaneous elections

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Elections

 

Source: IE, IE

 Context: The Government has formed a committee, headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to explore the possibility of one nation, one election,” which refers to holding simultaneous Lok Sabha (Parliament) and state assembly elections.

  

What is one nation, one election (ONOE)?

The concept of “one nation, one election” refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies simultaneously, once in five years.

 

Background:

Simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. The dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.

 

Benefits of “one nation, one election”

BenefitDescription
Reducing Election ExpenditureConducting all elections simultaneously minimizes expenses on logistics, security, and campaigning.
Better GovernanceSimultaneous elections allow elected governments to focus on governance rather than preparing for the next election. It will help in streamlining the election cycle to avoid policy disruptions due to the Model Code of Conduct
Voter ConvenienceEnsures voters are not subjected to multiple rounds of voting, leading to better turnout and voter convenience.
Reduced Security ConcernsConducting elections together reduces overall security concerns and enhances security setup across the country.
Level Playing FieldProvides a level playing field for all parties and candidates, promoting fairness and transparency in elections.
Reduced Impact on EducationSimultaneous elections reduce the impact on the education sector, as fewer teachers are involved in the electoral process.

 

Challenges of “One Nation, One Election”:

ChallengeDescription
Constitutional ChallengesRequires constitutional amendments, necessitating consensus among political parties and states, a complex and lengthy process.
Anti-federalAssembly elections focus on local issues, and combining them with general elections may overshadow regional narratives.
Logistical challengesConducting all elections simultaneously involves logistical arrangements, security deployment, voter rolls, and polling booth management, leading to administrative difficulties.
Need for approximately 30 lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines
Possibility of Domination by National PartiesSimultaneous elections may favour national parties with more resources, potentially marginalizing regional parties and issues.
Impact on DemocracyVoters may struggle to engage with all issues simultaneously, potentially leading to uninformed choices and undermining the democratic process.

 

Way forward

  • Recommendation of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice: A two-phase election schedule, according to which elections to some legislative assemblies whose term end within six months to one year before or after the election date could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha. For the rest of the states, elections could be held along with the general elections to Lok Sabha.
  • Cost can be brought under control by ensuring that the legal cap on the expenditure of candidates is followed by all parties.
  • Concept of One year, One election will be easier than ONOE, and will have the same benefits.

 

International Examples: Simultaneous Elections are successfully held in South Africa (national and provincial), and Sweden (including local elections as well on the same day).

 

Conclusion:

While the idea of “One nation, one election” has its own merits, it is important to consider the practical challenges and limitations of implementing it. A comprehensive study is required to examine the feasibility of this concept in India.

 

Insta Links

One nation, one election

 

Practice Questions

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)