Corruption Combat in Election! Don’t settle for Fake Majority or Populism
Democracy is rule of majority, not of minority. In
Democracy is rule of majority, not of minority. In
In popular parlance majority is just a game of numbers, real or faked. In a crowd of 100 if 50+1 raise hands in favour of the most vociferous, he becomes the instant majority leader. A crowd has many heads but not one mind. It can be easily manipulated by rabble rousers to make too many raise hands by appealing to emotions, not to reason.
A community instead has not only many heads but one mind, heart and goal. In it people will raise hands only if they see the self proclaimed leader is qualified. They will not blindly believe any one just because he looks charismatic or has the gift of the gab but because what he says and does make sense. In the case of Anna Hazare crowd the majority may not have understood all the implications of the Jan Lokpal bill. But they all saw the honesty and sincerity of Anna and also the truth of the monstrosity of corruption making their daily lives miserable.
A healthy and enlightened democracy presupposes honest, enlightened and service minded leaders and also an educated and discerning public capable of making informed political choices. In
Today we have an explosion of a literate youth, mostly middle class and city centred, not ready to swallow blindly what the ruling class says but questions their conduct, credibility and freely expresses their differing or opposing views in word and deed through the mass media, specially through social networks – twitter, face book, internet and mobile – without having to organise costly public meetings to create public awareness. Our ruling class being least equipped to face this democratic challenge, label it as a threat to constitutional authority and try to suppress it with brute state force. This is the crisis Indian democracy is facing today. We saw how it played out during the historic non-violent mass apprising led by Anna Hazare.
So do we have a majority rule? We don’t, neither in the literal numerical sense nor in the ideal sense. For an ideal democracy first we have to raise the literacy rate of the masses into an effective tool in their hands to compete in the war of words in the free market of ideas, arguments and counter arguments, all part of any democratic process. We may have to wait another half a century to see literacy reach that level to intelligently discuss public issues, to agree or disagree without being disagreeable and reach consensus trough give and take and compromise without compromising principles for the sake of common good. This is what freedom of expression guaranteed in our constitution is all about.
Faulty Number Game
For the present we are condemned to be content with playing the number game and draw the utmost benefit out of it, to every one’s advantage. Even here, to have a convincing majority, the starting point is to make doubly sure that an elected MP or MLA gets at least 50%+1 of the total votes polled in a contest between two. If the non-voting public also is counted the winner would need much more than 50+1 to claim, he has the backing of the majority in his constituency. But in a multi-cornered contest, as is often the case, the winner is one who first passes the post (FPTP) beating three or four rivals. That makes it nearly impossible to get more than half the votes polled.
Instead he often ends up with a mere one third or fourth of votes polled. When the number of people who didn’t vote also is added, his stature is simply reduced to an insignificant minority leader since he does not have the backing of the actual majority in his constituency. Of course he is sure to be trumpeted as the majority candidate of the constituency for public consumption and perception. The public may even be fooled into believing he represents the majority, though he may have bagged only 25 or 30% of the votes polled.
Now push this game of numbers to its logical conclusion, from the level of a single candidate in a constituency to parties which capture power at State and National levels to govern. At both the levels it is the party or coalition parties with greatest number of half cooked victorious candidates with 25 or 30% of votes, that capture power. No one bothers to measure the percentage of votes they cornered or question their claim to majority support, which is taken for granted. What is needed is a majority rule made mandatory in letter and spirit for any party to form a government at state or national levels
Thus there is a UDF government in Kerala with a thin majority of two, an AIDMK government in Tamil Nadu with a brute majority and a UPA government at the centre with a comfortable majority. That is no proof these ruling parties have secured more than 50% of votes cast. According to reports the Congress which leads the coalition at the centre managed to secure only 25% of the votes polled. Add to it also the number of those who didn’t vote in the country. This means, even in this number game we are ruled at the centre and in most states by a minority. It simply rubbishes our claim that we are a democracy ruled by the will of the majority. Aren’t we then just fooling ourselves?
This anomaly is corrected by other election models like “Proportional Representation” (PR) and Mixed Member Proportional Representation’ (MMPR). In an enlightening article “Key to election reforms” (Indian Express,
One or another form of PR model, he says, is followed in 93 countries to make sure that every voter is represented. “Briefly, under the PR system, if there are four parties contesting and they get 40, 30, 20 and 10 per cent of votes polled, their parties will get proportionately 40, 30, 20 and 10 seats in an Assembly of 100 seats in the proportion in which they have polled the popular votes. This means that every voter is represented and not just those whose candidate wins, as in FPTP model. In the FPTP system a large percentage of voters feel that their votes are wasted on losing candidates, while in the PR system everybody’s vote counts….. In the corruption rankings among nations around the world, of the top 22 least corrupt countries, 17 follow some form of PR,” points out Krishnaswamy.
Examples to Follow
In any case since our present system has proved to the hilt that it is a gold mine of corruption for parties and candidates it is high time that “we the people” led by the non-political vocal Team Anna, press forward for a PR model or a better one in our election system. Happily election reform is the next item on Anna’s corruption combat agenda. What is important is to make sure that both the majority and minority communities are proportionally represented in our democracy and every chance of corruption to creep into higher echelons of political power is blocked at the very source of our election process.
Tail Piece: For more background information visit the website: https://sites.google.com/site/jameskottoorspeaking/ to read the following articles : 1.Hazare (Anna) God-sent Saviour for Corruption Free India Dream! (
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