India, the world’s most populous democracy will be in election-mode from April 16- May 13, 2009, with approx. 714 million people eligible to vote. The counting of ballots would begin on May 16 with results expected shortly afterwards. The entire process would be completed by May 28.
The much-awaited dates for national general elections in India have been announced by the Election Commission
Implications for India-watchers in the international business community
Coalition government again
The two main national political parties - the Congress [I] which leads the ruling coalition government; and the current leader of the opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are expected to form separate coalitions, with a diverse group of regional/ state specific political parties to get the required number of seats [276 of 550] in Parliament to claim majority required to form the new government.
For the first time, there is a distinct possibility that a third coalition may be formed by parties other than the Congress and the BJP, which will consist of a spectrum of regional parties led notably by Mayawati, who leads a regional backward caste-based alliance which made significant progress during the last state elections.
Coalition government will be a weak government
Indian watchers may expect political uncertainty for a few years.
Major policy decisions, as well as India’s recovery from the current economic crisis is therefore expected to take much longer.
The new government is also expected to focus on measures that deliver short-term political gains on the domestic front to show ‘quick-wins’.
The bureaucracy will not take any significant decisions. Top bureaucrats at Ministries usually change when a new Minister takes charge, after elections.The two important institutions in India that are not required to comply with the electoral code of conduct [from now till when the new government is sworn in], and allowed to take significant decisions to protect national interests, are: [a] The Reserve Bank of India [which governs India’s monetary policy and is the apex regulator of the banking and financial sector]; and [b] the judiciary
Key facts about elections in India:
The month-long voting process, would be held in five phases and will see about four million election workers – about half of them security personnel – manning more than 800,000 polling stations.
Around 1.1 million electronic voting machines will be used across the nation to elect 543 federal lawmakers.
The voting dates for some of the major Indian cities are as follows:
a. Maharashtra [state capital, Mumbai]: April 16th, 23rd and 30th
b. Goa: April 23rd
c. Bangalore: April 23rd and 30th
d. Gujarat: April 30th
e. New Delhi: May 7