Saturday, 17 May 2014

Thoughts on recent electoral news

Ladies and gentlemen, this week the world focused its eyes on the Indian general election (India is the world's most populus democratic nation by far) and the unfortunate fact that former Gujarati minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, the main right-wing party in India and the major part of the National Democratic Alliance, won by a landslide, winning 339 seats out of 543 in India's Lok Sabha (or House of the People as it translates to). Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi's Indian Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance lost 203 seats in total, with Mr. Gandhi having to fight to hold onto his own seat of Amethi in Utter Pradesh, India's largest province. Meanwhile, the Aam Admi Party, an anti-corruption party who performed surprisingly well in the state elections of Delhi, India's capital city, did not perform as well as expected and only won 4 Lok Sabha seats. (India, like Britain, uses FPTP for all its legislative seats)

I believe that this result is worrying for much of India's population for good reason. Whilst Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, he presided over anti-Muslim violence during the Gujarati riots of 2002, and there is some evidence he condoned some of that, true to his Hindu nationalist nature. Also, the alliance he leads contains the dangerous and extreme-right Shivsena, which has been linked to some anti-Muslim violence elsewhere in India. His links to business tycoons are also a serious concern for rural populations of India, who often live with high levels of poverty.

Returning to Britain, I am pleased that LBC presenter James O'Brien managed to deflate Nigel Farage live on air, and I hope this will be the start of UKIP's over-inflated, media-boosted bubble bursting (will it culminate in the Newark by-election?), which can also mean protest voters turn towards the Green Party-the real alternative to the LibLabCons.

It has also been reported by the Electoral Reform Society that 7 councillors (5 Labour, 2 Conservative) have been elected unopposed before a single vote has been cast elsewhere. Although this is better than in previous years (last year, 12 councillors, all Conservatives, were elected unopposed in Wiltshire and Shropshire, and in 2011, there were 259 uncontested council seats across England) it still shows why the first past the post system must be scrapped for local elections anywhere in the UK, and replaced by single transferable vote, which has worked wonders for fair representation in Scotland. We Greens would have many more council seats under STV,also, and UKIP would have fewer because they would not be able to sneak on very low winning vote shares as they did last year (many council seats in 2013 were won with the winner getting less than 30% of the total votes cast, and sometimes lower than 25%!)



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