Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's democracy, only bigger

Courtesy of the BBC, news reaches 'Liberal Bureaucracy' of democracy's 'Biggest Show on Earth'. Yes, it's time for India to elect a new Lok Sabha and the vast task of organising 828,804 polling stations is well under way. The BBC has some useful analysis, if you're interested.

The logistics are truly staggering, and polling will take place over a period of more than a month, every Thursday, starting on 16 April. To complicate matters for observers, different states will vote in different patterns, with some states using just one date, whereas Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are using all five dates. The count itself will take place on 16 May.

In terms of Party organisation, the impact of events must be incredibly difficult to manage, especially for those political parties that operate nationally. And whilst the banning of exit polls last year will prevent the impact of information of actual votes influencing the outcome of later stages of voting, there is little doubt in my mind that information will seep out.

To make the whole thing more interesting, a number of regional parties will attract significant shares of the vote and, if recent history is repeated, will have significant influence on the formation of a working administration afterwards.

However, there is one really easy job in this election. A polling station will be open in the Gir Lion Sanctuary in Gujarat. Electorate? One. Vote early, and let the presiding officer go home, that's my advice...

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