Monday, November 16, 2015

Democracies and Predictability

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Time and again we see the same thing happening.  When given a freedom of choice people will behave just they want to behave.  No matter how much media badgering or constant publicity aimed at creating general public opinion, the human behavior is predictable.  There is no way to guess how people will decide to do things.  Especially when it comes to democratic elections, it is always amazing that people will vote for their expectations of the future.  It never fails to amaze the pundits, but people always hold the cards and public is always playing their cards right.  It doesn’t matter which country or what region of the world, if there is a truly democratic election with choices, the people will always vote for the future, and from what they believe can be delivered by the choices in representation they have.

The greatest elections are the ones that people really vote with their heads working, and no matter what the electorate hears, the voting booth always remains a mystery.  These we even have the election results coverage from the beginning of the election day.  No one wants to finish the voting process and then wait for the counting to be completed.  Even the constant coverage on the day of elections, seem to keep the voter fixed on who they are going to vote for, and nothing they are hearing or seeing matters.

If we tune into the recent elections in India, the countrywide elections that yielded a massive majority to form Modi government at the center, seem to quickly have different results in state and local elections.  There is no difference in Modi’s pitch to the nation (voters) which remains unchanged in more than a year he has been the PM.  He has by and large stayed to the agenda of development and cleanliness, and personally works hard in governance and towards his agenda.  He has not been personally involved in any scams or money mismanagement.  But the results of local body elections in Delhi and Bihar reflect a total turnaround in people’s perception of his abilities at the state level, and the political defeats to Modi’s party is now matter of legend; huge losses which only are reserved for total incompetence or gross mismanagement, which with Modi is not the case. What clearly reflects the mindset of the electorate is localized issues.  People clearly differentiate matters of the nation and matters of the town, and more over they are quite smart in choosing their representatives based on what they can feel rather than what they hear.  The voter is smart enough even to distinguish the nation, state and local body representation while in the confines of the voter booth.

The political wave that the reporters constantly blabber about is quite short lived.  Elections only see political waves when there is gross negligence in managing a political office.  The public outcry to replace a party is a reaction to obvious incompetence, but an ongoing political wave is not a constant practice in democracies.  People allow time for the elected representatives to perform to their promises and their party’s overall platform.  People are not looking for a constant wave of new policies and promises, rather a stable and sustainable government up on which they can constantly made demands and also expect people in power not to steal public resources.

The politics of governance is quite predictable.  People are constantly watching and weighing in on their future vote.  Politicians typically get a long tenure to come through with meeting the needs of their electorate, and how they perform at all levels of governance (local, state and center) determines the fate of their party in the next election.  India has a huge issue with pandering to vote banks, but even that is clearly not enough to have people really vote someone into power.

It is quite simple to get reelected.  If politicians just do what they said they will do while getting elected the first time, people will simply place their confidence back into voting for the same person again and again.  While the constant media coverage gets tiring, the media also covers what is really being done by the politicians in power.  So there is no escaping the prying eyes of journalists, who are constantly looking into what is being done by the politicians.

Performance and predictability have become synonymous with democratic elections.  No amount of money, coverage and promotions help in the voting booth.  Only thing that matters is what the voter deems important for the future.

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