Improvised Economical Democracy

In a country of royalty, monarchy or official nobility the mannerism and etiquette are more polished and polite. There people become formal and ceremonious because they have an ideal to relate to. On the contrary, in a democracy of periodical elections the opposition starts criticising the elected leadership from day one, and begins the term with a sustained effort for its own election the next time. Thus the modern democratic leadership never gets idealised for emulation. So the manners here become a social affair readily mutable as the society moves/ develops faster than the tradition. Britain and America afford good examples of formality and casualness. Pornography has grown in America for lack of mannerism. It doesn’t go well to infer that America’s progress is also owing to its informality. In Japan modern technology co-exists with the time honoured culture that has evolved over the centuries of royal existence.

This is not to say that the monarchy is preferable over democracy. But democracy appears to have ripened for an improvisation. An inherent flaw in the modern democracy is its wrong prioritisation of the constituents. Being only residually the government for the people, by the time a government of and by the people realises the need to be for the people, its term is already at the verge of expiration. So it better starts campaigning for the new election.

Another flaw is its dogma of being a majority government! This is actually far from truth. We have checked it out with the figures of two big elections, the US presidential election of 2012 and the Indian parliamentary election of 2014. The two countries are chosen as typical democracies, but there shouldn’t be much in the inferences as US or India specific.

In July 2012 America had a total population of 31,39,14,040 of which the number of registered electors (not the voting age population) was 12,90,67,662 (which is 41.1% of the population). In the presidential election of that year almost all the registered electors, precisely 98% or 12,68,31,812, voters cast their votes.

Of all the votes cast 51.1%, i.e., 6,58,99,660, votes were secured by the Democratic candidate Mr. Barak Obama while as 47.2%, i.e., 6,09,32,152, votes were secured by the Republican candidate Mr. Mitt Romney. (The figures are available online on various official sites like us census bureau and statista.com.) The number of voters (6,58,99,660) who voted for Mr. Obama constitute 20.99% of the population (of 31,39,14,040).

Of the total votes cast a sizable 47.2% (6,09,32,152) votes have been actually cast against Mr. Obama. Mathematically speaking, when we cancel the votes cast in his favour by those cast against him, Mr. Obama is left only with a handful of 49,67,500 more votes than his opponent. In effect, therefore, during his second term Mr. Obama literally governed the United States of America with the help of a meagre five million voters who do not constitute more than 1.58% of its population!

Now come to India. In 2014 it had a total population of 1,23,88,90,000 of which the number of registered electors was 83,40,82,814. In the parliamentary election of that year only 66.30%, i.e., 54,78,00,004, voters actually cast their votes.

Of these total votes cast only 31.33%, i.e., 17,16,60,230, votes were secured by BJP (through its 282 seats) while as 38.50%, i.e., 21,09,03,002, votes were secured by the National Democratic Alliance, NDA, (through their 336 seats including BJP’s 282 seats). This number of 21,09,03,002 votes secured by NDA is 38.50% of the votes cast (54,78,00,004), only 25.28% of the total registered voters (83,40,82,814), and just 17.02% of the population (of 1,23,88,90,000).

Of the total votes cast 61.50% (33,68,97,002) have been actually polled in favour of the other political parties/ candidates; or against the NDA, in other words. (Figures have been taken from the election commission of India and the senses directorate.) There isn’t a single parameter for which the NDA government could be said to be representing a majority of the population.

Nevertheless, both the governments under discussion were indeed “democratically” elected, in spite of the paradox of the mathematical maze discussed above.

Significantly, considering an NDTV report of the time, the projected expenditure to elect the 16th Lok Sabha of 2014 was set to rival the USD seven billion (approximately ₹42000 crores) spent by the candidates and the parties in 2012 US presidential election. This was in addition to the official expenditure of ₹3600 crores!

What a pity! If the governments are to form by such a thin margin (as with Obama) or with negative margin (as with NDA), then why waste so much of human and material resources on their election? Why not to have a restricted number of voters who can use the vote in a cost effective manner? Why make arrangements for voting of a crowd following one influential person? Why not take his vote only? In short, simplification and minimization of the electoral process could save a lot of resources that can be utilized for the benefit of the commoners who deserve these the most. Nationalism should be love of the nation – of rather the people than geography.

Another aspect. Why not elect a leader for life to run the country? Periodical elections are like head transplants repeated every four or five years! How can a body perform well when its head changes now and then? If we cannot find a man of integrity, efficiency and rectitude among the millions and billions of persons, then we are simply wild and disentitled to discuss anything. Lifetime election of a leader would not only idealise him, it would also do the best favour of abolishing the political aspirants who are always ambushing for a chance. And come the chance, they not only recover their losses of the wait, but ensure future profits for themselves and their cronies.

Interestingly the results did not turn out to be any different with US presidential elections of 2012. If this is the strength of mandate, why waste so much money and time for it? Why can’t we simplify the election process and make it economical?