Simultaneous national and state elections significantly increase the likelihood of the same political party winning constituencies in both tiers, shows new study
Conducting parliamentary and state elections simultaneously is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet ideas that have invited massive public debate. Such “simultaneous elections", held once every five years, would certainly bring administrative ease. But a new study shows it could also have significant implications for electoral outcomes in India.
The study, by Vimal Balasubramaniam of Queen Mary University of London and others, shows that synchronized elections can increase the likelihood of the same political party winning constituencies at both the Centre and the state level by as much as 21%.
The authors find that this “synchronization effect" would favour state and regional parties over national parties. Incumbent parties in the state government are likely to have an increased probability of winning both tiers, but the same is not true for national government incumbents, the study finds.
The authors say that there are costs involved in voters getting more information necessary to make a choice. It may be cheaper or easier to vote simply based on party considerations rather than candidates’ personal characteristics when elections take place at the same time, the authors say.
This means the importance given to the party over the candidate reduces the chances of a voter picking two different parties in synchronized elections, the authors write.
Using post-poll surveys conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies between 1996 and 2018, the study finds that when national and state elections were held simultaneously, voters were more likely to report that they picked the same party in both.
The study concludes that before considering the administrative convenience of “one nation, one election", it is important to assess whether it is desirable to influence voters’ choices with such a policy.