There are only a few ways a party can win an elections in a democracy –
2. Promised freebies
3. Lack of options
4. Second best option
5. A grand coalition against the government
6. Wrong partners
7. Split of opposition vote
If a government performs, it will get reelected. Else, people will search for an alternate – note that they search for an alternate to the government – the second best option, not selection to the chair. Even if the government doesn’t perform well, it will be elected again if there are no options left. A new entrant or an existing one can get elected if it promises too much if it comes to victory. The intensity of the PR propaganda is what it matters. And if all opposition gang up against the government, we can see the government falter. There is no better example for this than Indira Gandhi after the Emergency. And you are going to lose because you got a wrong party in coalition or if there are too many opposition groups. There is always a party vote and an anti-government swing. Party vote stays pretty the same but it’s the swing vote against the government which gets split. We see that the net vote against the government more than the what the government got, but it scraped through because of the third person. In the same way, the extra baggage is going to throw away your vote base towards a different entity, mostly the government. In a country like India, I will not consider idealism as a vote winner simply because needs come first before idealism. Practically to speak, I will not care to bribe someone to get out of turn power supply. This is the stark reality. I will think of the morality of bribe only if there is no power cuts at all. But yes, corruption will make you lose votes but it will not help you much to win elections. But, idealisms do work, but very rarely as in the case of TDP or AGP.
Let’s consider the cases, one by one. Congress won in 2008 Lok Sabha not because it performed exceedingly well, but because there is no opposition. BJP was a chaos and Third Front was always a failed experiment. BJP in Gujarat or CPM in Tripura won because of consistent performances. AAP used the anger against the corruption of Delhi Government but, in reality, it twisted the vote base towards it not because of it’s ideological stand, but because of the freebies it promised. A governing entity with an annual budget of 40000 crores, we have seen AAP declaring freebies costing more than that and it won simply because no one dragged the party onto the roads to show the money they will need to fulfil their promises. Ironically, we will see this repeating day in and day out all over. The trend is that, everywhere in North India, we see this party ruling for five and the opposition for another five. This is a clear indication that there is no government. People get tired of the government in a term and elect someone else. Note the word someone else. They got elected not because of what they are but because they are not in government. Let’s take the 2008 elections in Andhra Pradesh where Congress was set to lose. But, the last minute entry of PRP split the opposition vote, propelling Congress to power with a huge majority. And the consolidated vote of PRP and TDP was more than Congress in most of the constituencies. As to the extra baggage, take the case of Congress in the today’s Tamil Nadu election results. Congress is a very weak entity in Tamil Nadu, becoming even weaker with the exit of GK Vasan. It was handed over around 40 seats by DMK. It means one main thing – 40 DMK probables didn’t get a chance to contest. Will they wholeheartedly prop the Congress effort or will they act in it’s detriment, no one can tell. The Congress image over corruption made some voters migrate towards a different party. All this says, had DMK contested without Congress tagging it, it would have won 25-30 seats in that 40 seats posing a serious challenge to ADMK for power.
All these point to a single thing – instead of boxing them into patterns, are we wasting too much in trying to estimate a result?