Jagdeep S Chhokar

Truth about democracy: MPs claim to speak on our behalf but more than 98 percent of them have backing of less than half of the registered votes. In the current ‘first-past-the-post’ system, caste and religion can sway the result. The law commission and election commission have suggested an alternative, which needs to be debated

Jagdeep S Chhokar

One of the major arguments used by the opponents of the Lokpal in the recent furore has been to assert the legitimacy of our elected representatives.The argument goes that only the elected representatives have the right to make laws, and the “unelected” and “unelectable” have no right or say in the matter. This raises the question of how representative are our “elected” representatives. Let us look at a simplified example.

For the sake of ease of calculation, let us assume a constituency has 100 registered voters. “Registered” is important because even though the total population of the constituency, including all age groups, might be 500, and people above 18 years (the minimum age of voting) might be 200, but all 200 may not be “registered” voters unless they get themselves registered and are part of the electoral roll. The assumption here is that only 100 have got themselves registered as voters.

The voting percentage in most elections in the country is around 50-60 percent. The recent assembly elections in five states recorded voting percentages in the range of 70-80 percent and one hopes this continues but the overall trend so far has been in the 50-60 percent range. So, let us assume the voting percentage in our hypothetical constituency of 100 registered voters to be 60 percent. The argument will hold even if we take the voting percentage to be 80 but we will stay with 60 percent for now, for the sake of computational simplicity. This means that 60 people vote in the election, or 60 votes are cast

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