Simultaneous Elections

Simultaneous Elections

In today’s series of our Current Affairs Dialog Box, we will be discussing Simultaneous elections. Elections constitute an integral part of the CSE syllabus and UPSC exam preparation. 

The relevant topics for Prelims preparation are Simultaneous Elections, Model Code of Conduct and International Precedents, whereas, for Mains, topics are the Pros and Cons of Simultaneous Elections and the Way Forward.

Why in the News?

Recently, the Law and Justice Minister briefed the Rajya Sabha that the Centre was not planning on amending the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to enable a common electoral roll and simultaneous elections to all electoral bodies in the country. 

Probable Question

Simultaneous elections can add a new dimension to the concept of Good Governance. Comment                                              

Background

  • Conducting elections simultaneously in India is not a new idea. The very first general elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative assemblies were conducted simultaneously in 1951-52. As were the next three elections.
  • However, when a few State assemblies were dissolved prior to their term ending, the overall cycle was disrupted.

What are Simultaneous Elections?

  • The term “Simultaneous Elections” would broadly mean structuring the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are synchronized together. 
  • In such a scenario, a voter would normally cast his/her vote for electing members of Lok Sabha and State Assembly on a single day and at the same time.

Pros of Simultaneous Elections

  • Save Public Money: Simultaneous polls will reduce the enormous costs involved in separate elections.
    • Around Rs 55,000 crore, or $8 billion, was spent during 2019 Lok Sabha elections, according to a report by the Centre for Media Studies.
  • Administrative Convenience: Reduce burden on the administrative setup and security forces.
  • Focus on Governance: Ensure that the administrative machinery, as well as the political leaders, are engaged in development activities rather than electioneering due to frequent imposition of Model Code of Conduct by the Election Commission.
  • Increased Voter Turnout: Simultaneous polls will boost voter turnout.
  • Simultaneous elections will help in reducing the caste, religion and communal issues.

Also read: How To Prepare For UPSC Prelims 2022

Cons of Simultaneous Elections

  • Affecting Voter’s Judgement: National and State issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgement of voters.
  • Reducing Government Accountability: Since elections will be held once every five years, it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people. 
    • Repeated elections keep legislators on their toes and increase accountability.
  • Impact on Federalism: When an election in a State is postponed until the synchronized phase, the President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state.
    •  This will be a blow to democracy and federalism.
What is a Model Code of Conduct (MCC)?

The MCC is a set of norms that lays down several do’s and don’ts that political parties, contesting candidates, parties in power have to strictly abide by during the process of elections.

It has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have agreed to abide by its principles and to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit. 

It is enforced from the date of announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections is completed.

Challenges Involved

  • Curtailment of State Legislature Tenure: The idea of Simultaneous elections may require the curtailment or extension of the tenure of State legislatures to bring their elections in line with the Lok Sabha poll dates.
  •  Harmonizing with Parliamentary Democracy Ethos: In a Parliamentary democracy, the executive is responsible to the legislature; and its legitimacy would be undermined by taking away the legislature’s power to bring down a minority regime by mandating a fixed tenure just to have simultaneous elections.

Draft Recommendations on Simultaneous Elections: The Law Commission of India 

The Law Commission of India chaired by Justice B.S. Chauhan released its draft report on Simultaneous Elections on August 30, 2018, which made following recommendations:

  • No-confidence motion: The Commission recommended replacing the ‘no-confidence motion’ with a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’, through appropriate amendments. 
    •  In a constructive vote of no confidence, the government may only be removed if there is confidence in an alternate government. 
  • Amendment to anti-defection laws: The Commission recommended that appropriate amendments be made to anti-defection laws to ensure that all disqualification issues (arising from defection) are decided by the Presiding Officer within six months. 
  • Hung Assembly: In order to prevent Hung Assembly, the Commission recommended that the President/ Governor should give an opportunity to the largest party along with their pre or post-poll alliance to form the government.  
    • If the government can still not be formed, an all-party meeting may be called to resolve the stalemate.
    • If this fails, mid-term elections may be held only for the remainder of the previous term, and not for the entire five years.
International Precedents of Simultaneous Elections:

Sweden
In Sweden, elections to the local county councils and municipal councils happen simultaneously with the general elections in the second week of September on a Sunday.

Britain
The British Parliament passed the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2011, with a push for providing further stability and predictability to the British Parliament’s tenure.

Way Forward

  • Simultaneous elections may be conducted to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. 
  •  It is undeniable that simultaneous elections would be a far-reaching electoral reform. If it is to be implemented, there needs to be a solid political consensus, and an agenda of comprehensive electoral reforms should supplement it. 
  • The pros and cons need to be appropriately assessed and practical alternatives sincerely considered. 

News Source: The Hindu

For more informative articles like this, download the PrepLadder app and get access to well-structured and the most comprehensive study material for Civil Services exam preparation. You can also join our Telegram channel for UPSC exam preparation to apprise yourself with the latest information about the exam  

Own Your Dream

Team PrepLadder

PrepLadder UPSC