Voters’ choice

Mar 22 2014, 03:17 IST
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SummaryEconomic growth does matter for voting a party, and candidates with more wealth have better chances of winning.

Economic growth does matter for voting a party, and candidates with more wealth have better chances of winning. Surprisingly, the victory rate of candidates with more criminal cases is higher than those with clean records.

A detailed analysis done by Arvind Panagariya and Poonam Gupta from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections data shows that percentage of the incumbent party’s candidates winning the elections in high growth states was 85%. However, in medium and low growth states, candidates of the incumbent party only won 50% and 30% of the seats contested, respectively.

Voters prefer more educated people to be their representatives in Parliament. Of the 543 Members of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha, 260 were post-graduates or had higher technical degree. Most candidates contesting had at least gone through the middle school. Interestingly, none of the eight candidates with no formal education won in the 2009 polls.

The candidates’ wealth is positively correlated with victory as one in five members is a dollar millionaire. In the 15th Lok Sabha, there were 85 members who had two or more criminal cases pending against them. The research note underlines that while voters penalise candidates with criminal charges, they also vote for wealthier candidates. So, as candidates with criminal charges are rich, the positive effect of wealth on the vote share is higher for candidates with criminal charges.

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