The biggest voting event in the largest democracy of the world has just finished its fourth phase. Endless campaigns, advertisements and propaganda, the ways of electing the next leader of the country have known no bounds in terms of innovation, creativity and strategy.
With more than 800 million Indians are going to the polls over many weeks to elect a new government. This whopping figure exceeds the number of voters from both Europe and United States combined.
So, what is the process behind this? How does India exactly get its Prime Minister through the Lok Sabha elections. In case you do not remember the chapters from our civics textbook, or simply need to brush up for general knowledge (who even does that anymore, right?) we break down this process for you.
- We will be electing members of the 17th Lok Sabha, or the lower house of India’s bicameral legislature. In the Indian system, fashioned after the British Westminster system, the prime minister is the head of Government. There are two houses – Lower House (Lok Sabha) and Upper House (Rajya Sabha).
- In India’s process to elect a Prime Minister, there is a feature that plays a vital role. It is that all candidates have to be either a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, meaning that they contest elections for a particular seat from within a particular locality.
- India's lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, has 543 elected seats. Any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a majority government. If any party does not end up with a single majority, different parties will form coalitions until they acquire the requisite number of seats to elect a prime minister successfully.
- The Prime Minister is appointed by the Lok Sabha, rather than elected directly by voters as is common in a Presidential system of democracy. So, when we vote, the party that has most number of candidates elected will be part of the Lok Sabha who will together become ruling party and elect the Prime Minister.
- Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are used at all polling stations since 1999, compared to before when voting would happen with papers being stamped on and inserted into the ballots. The entire process is overseen by the Election Commission of India. Solution to issues like corruption, unemployment, rising inflation, a faltering economy, women's safety and national security are some of the key issues that require to be addressed by the leaders.