Dijesh J. Khobragade
An analysis of the FPTP System
The biggest threat India is facing today is its own anti-democratic electoral system. Nowadays, many political parties are babbling over the isssue of EVMs and say it’s the reason for their losing deposits in every election. Yes, indeed it’s true, EVMs are hackable and they are used very often.
But not only the EVMs are a threat, The very giant threat to the indian democracy and Ambedkarite Politics is the threat of ‘FPTP’- FIRST PAST THE POST SYSTEM, which is still prevailing in the Largest Democracy.
In Indian elections, EVMs are a nominal problem, while the FPTP system is the real problem.
What is the FPTP system?
The FIRST PAST THE POST SYSTEM (FPTP) is also known as the Simple Majority System in the context of electoral systems. In this system, the candidate who gets the maximum number of votes in a single member constituency in the elections get elected.
There are multi-cornered contests in every election where the number of candidates contesting in any constituency may be 8 to 10 or even more. In such cases, the candidate getting the highest number of total votes cast wins the seat as it follows the simple rule of majority, even if it is less than 50% of the total votes.
For example: in a constituency of, say 1,00,000 (one lakh) voters, if person A gets 49,999 votes and person B gets 50,001 votes. person B is declared the winner.
The magic of FPTP SYSTEM is that a person may lose or win by even 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 votes. In a democracy you cannot silence the voices of 49,999 people, Their voices should be heard.
What is the solution?
PR, or Proportional Rrepresentation systemb is the way forward.
What is the PR System?
Proportional/Participatory Representation system, commonly called Single Transferable Vote system, implies an election system wherein the representation of all classes of people is ensured, as each party gets as many number of seats as the proportion of votes their candidates poll in the election.
In the PR system, every political party, major or minority group, obtains their representation in proportion to their voting strength, ie. voting percentage.
As the votes are counted each party gets the number of seats in the parliament according to the number of votes.
In this way, in the PR system, every small, regional or even micro parties with small bases also get their representation in the parliament.
This is the true democratic electoral system, which is respected in most liberal countries.
In the PR system every vote and voter is important, as it is counted and considered.
It is pertinent to note that the right to adult suffrage, which is a constitutional right under Article 326, guarantees “One Man, One Vote” (Gender Neutral). This One Man, One Vote principle requires an electoral system which can realise truly representative government of “We The People” of India.
The FPTP SYSTEM, with single member constituencies (SMC) and simple plurality vote (SPV), as introduced by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956, and the subsequent amendment to Representation Of the People Act, RPA 1951 w.e.f. 1-3-1956 has indeed made our democracy non-representative. It has been instaling both a minority government and ensuring victory of candidates with minority votes (ie.less than 50%).
What a tragedy that India with its non-representative electoral system of FPTP with single member constituencies and simple vote system belongs in the company of former colonised, newly independent states like Bangladesh, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Palu, Palestinian Authority, Saint Vincent And the Grenedines, Trinidad and Tobago.
Does it suit the largest democracy in the world to be in the comapany of these fledgling democracies, by her non representative electoral system of FPTP, which is a colonial legecy? But this colonial legacy is not forced by the Britishers but chosen by the hereditary governing class through their tyrannical political majority for retaining the rule of a minority (ie., 15% over the majority of 85% people).
Statistics and Data that will prove the FPTP System is against Democracy and its Citizens
I am putting forth the data of General Elections 2014 i.e., parliamentary elections/Lok Sabha elections of 2014:
In May 2014, BJP came to power in the centre. It secured 52% of seats with just 31% vote share, which means it got a a bonus of 113 seats (it should have won only 168 seats in the PR system).
Whereas, the Indian National Congress(INC) got only 44 seats with 19.3% vote share, which means a loss of 60 seats.
The Bahujan Samaj party(BSP) could not secure a single seat inspite of getting 4.1% vote share.
The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) got 34 seats with mere 3.8% vote share, i.e., 21 seats more.
AIADMK got only 3.3% vote share and won 37 seats, ie. 19 seats more.
TDP with 2.5% vote share won 16 seats.
Whereas, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra got only 1.9% voteshare and won 18 seats.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) got only 0.7% vote share, and won 5 seats.
JMM and JVM got 0.3% vote share, but 0 seats.
In the 16th Lok Sabha, BJP got 282 seats with only 31% vote share. This clearly means that nearly 70 percent of votes were against the BJP. 70 percent of the population don’t want them in power.
In a democracy, no one should silence the the voice of 70% voters, but because of this FPTP system minority governments are coming to power.
70% of people want their candidates to go to the parliament to raise their voice, to talk about their interests. Their vote will be respected only in a Proportional Representation system.
Even when you see the data of recent Karnataka Assembly elections 2018, you will notice the fraud of the FPTP System. Congress had secured 38.04% vote share and got 78 seats, whereas BJP had secured 36.04% vote share and won 104 seats.
Dr. Babasheb Ambedkar wanted the PR system to be practised in Indian Democracy, But due to some reasons he could not realise his wishes, perhaps due to other pressing issues.
But as the intellectual descendants of the great legacy of Babasaheb, it is our responsibility to make PR system a success in our generation.
Who is working for a PR System?
Vijay Mankar, the leader of the Ambedkarite Party Of India, is probably the only one who is fighting for it on a large scale. When many political parties are busy in the science of EVMs. He is fighting with his immense intelligence against FPTP.
Vijay Mankar has already tabled ten Bills and 11 eleven Petitions in the Parliament.
His popular petition, SUB: PETITION REGARDING CHANGE IN INDIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM AND NECESSARY ELECTORAL REFORMS FOR MAKING OUR PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY TRULY REPRESENTATIVE, PARTICIPATORY AND JUST”, has been tabled in parliament.
He is a vigorous intellectual and the most read leader of the country. His vision of a “Parallel Government” where we can solve 30-40% of communities problem is a new thought in Ambedkarite Politics, first in the country.
He has knowledge of various constitutions of the world, and had already researched the entire election processes of many countries.
All Dalit-Bahujans, Ambedkarite groups and organisations should support him in this cause of eliminating the FPTP system and in establishing the PR system, which will be beneficial to all Ambedkarite politics in the country.
Many Dalit-Bahujans, Ambedkarite groups and organisations are raising their voice against VMs. They just want EVMs to be banned and elections to be conducted on paper ballots.
Yes, EVMs should go, or we can demand VVPAT (Paper Trails) to be installed to the extent of 30%, at least. We have solutions for EVMs but it’s high time we find a substitute for the FPTP system.
Even if we transform the voting style from electronic machines to ballot papers when this FPTP still prevails it would be very difficult for Ambedkarite, Dalit-Bahujan, and Republican parties to enter the parliament.
This aggression and energy of the masses against EVMs should move towards the elimination of FPTP system.
Finally I would like to conclude by saying that “the PR system guarantees a better and inclusive representation to all opinions, interests and persons for the functioning of democracy, that FPTP fails to do so”.
Dijesh J. Khobragade is a student of political science, interested in Ambedkarite Politics and Economics. He is a Civil Services aspirant.