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What is Election? Why do we need Elections?

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The elections refer to the mechanism by which people tend to choose their representatives at regular intervals of time and change them whenever they want to. Choices of the voters during elections include:

  • Choose the ones who will make laws for them.
  • Choose who will form the government and take major decisions.
  • Choose the party whose decisions will guide the government and law-making.

Elections have been the fundamental way contemporary representative democracy has functioned since the 17th century. Elections may be held to fill positions in the legislature, executive, and judiciary, as well as positions in regional and municipal administration. 

What is Elections?


Why do we need elections?

In modern representative democracies, elections are universally used as a tool for selecting representatives, in contrast to ancient Athens, where elections were regarded as an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled through sortition, also known as allotment, in which officeholders were chosen by lot. 

Election reform is the process of putting in place or improving the fairness and efficacy of current electoral systems where they do not exist. Psephology is the study of election results and other statistics (especially with a view to predicting future results). Election refers to the act of electing or being elected. 

  • Every democracy holds elections on a regular basis.
  • Elections are held in over 100 nations throughout the world to elect representatives of the populace.
  • Election is a system in which voters elect their representatives at regular intervals and can switch them out whenever they want.
  • Elections are a method of electing representatives to various government posts through the use of ballots.
  • Elections, in which the adult population of a country elects the people’s representatives, are the bedrock of democracy.

Need for Election

Representatives must be elected through elections. People rule in most democracies through their representatives. Elections solve the issue of evaluating people based on their education, knowledge, or experience. Elections aid in determining whether or not the people like their leaders. Elections ensure that representatives rule in accordance with the wishes of the people and that those who are not working for the people are not re-elected. 

Elections are necessary for democracy because they allow people to feel free and choose their government. Free and fair elections are critical because they are directly tied to people’s desire to vote and pick the representative they believe would be best suited to manage the county’s affairs. Important government choices will be shaped by the people’s choice of representatives. 

They also elect the political party overseeing the government and the law. Every neighborhood and country has a pressing need for elections. If people are unhappy with a present government’s rule, they can replace it with a candidate who has strong laws and is capable of ruling. People then vote in accordance with their preferences. Representatives who are elected to rule should use their position to suit the needs and interests of residents. Elections at regular intervals are crucial because they show whether the present government will stay in power or change. 

An election is important for the following reasons:

  • Elections are the most effective indirect democracy method because they encourage people to vote for representatives who will then pass laws on their behalf.
  • People will vote for those who will have an impact on the administration and make important decisions. 
  • They will vote for the political party whose policies will guide governance and legislative formation.
  • Elections ensure that power passes smoothly from one form of government to the next. People can always propose another party to form a government if they are displeased with the current administration, its policies, or the way it is run. 
  • Elections ensure that no government is elected for an infinite period of time, resulting in tyranny.
  • Elections empower citizens to participate in the affairs of their country while remaining politically active and aware.
  • It compels politicians to behave in the best interests of the people. 

What makes an election democratic?

The following conditions play a very role to make the elections democratic in nature:

  1. Firstly, each one should be able to choose, which is everyone should have one vote and each vote has equal value.
  2. Secondly, there should be political parties to choose from. Parties and candidates should be free to contest elections and should offer some real choices to voters to choose from.
  3. Thirdly. choices should be offered on regular basis. Elections should be held regularly after every few years.
  4. Fourthly, candidates preferred by the people should be elected.
  5. Fifth and most important, elections should be held in a free and fair manner, where people can choose whom they really wish.

In India, there are three layers of government: the central government, the state government, and the local government. Elections to elect Members of Parliament, known as Lok Sabha elections, are held at the national level. The country is divided into 543 constituencies for the Lok Sabha election, with each constituency electing one Member of Parliament (MP). Assembly elections are held at the state level; however, unlike the federal level, each state is organized into a distinct number of Assembly constituencies. The Member of the Legislative Assembly is the elected representative in the assembly election (MLA). 

Similarly, elections are held for the positions of Pradhan in Panchayat (rural) regions and counselors in Municipal (urban) areas at the local level. Each village or town is divided into a number of wards (equivalent to constituencies), each of which elects one village or urban local body member. 

Is it good to have political competition?

Elections are mostly about political competition; which takes various forms. The most common form of competition is among political parties. At the level of the constituency, it takes the form of competition among several candidates. Without competition, elections would become a monopoly and will be pointless.

Electoral competition obviously has disadvantages, firstly it creates a sense of “disunity” and “factionalism” in every locality. The level of allegations by different political groups against each other is very common. There is the use of dirty tricks by parties to win the elections. Many people believe that this kind of pressure to win the elections does not allow for long-term policies to be formulated. Also, some good people because of these dirty tricks who wish to serve the country, don’t enter the arena due to “unhealthy competition”.

Political leaders all over the world, are motivated by a desire to advance their political careers, and hence they want to remain in power and positions for themselves. They may want to serve the people, but may not know how to do so, or their ideas do not match what people want. In such a situation, one of the ways is to try and improve the knowledge and character of the political leaders. Another way is to set a system in which political parties are rewarded for serving people’s needs or punished for not doing so. The decision for reward or punishment should lay with the people.

Regular electoral competition provides incentives to political parties and leaders. The sense of idea to know that, those issues raised that people want to raise, would lead to their popularity and chances of victory will increase till the next elections are around. But in case they fail to satisfy the voters with their work, they won’t be able to win again.

Hence, political competition can be ruthless and ugly at times but it actually finally helps to force political parties and leaders to serve the people in long term.

Elections in India vs. Elections in the United States 

Two of the world’s largest democracies are India and the United States. While the subcontinental system is just about 70 years old, the one used in the United States has been in use for about 240 years. These systems imply that inhabitants of various countries have a significant voice in who comes to power and how policies are implemented. However, the electoral processes in place in these two democracies are one of their most significant features. 

Political parties

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent US elections, you’ll know that the country’s two most powerful parties, both in terms of reach and popularity, are Republicans and Democrats. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are these parties, each of which is based on a distinct philosophy. Although other parties exist, such as the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, they are often seen as outliers and are referred to as separate entities. However, in the Indian system, there aren’t many parties that are well-known across the country. While the Congress Party is by far the most popular, the Bharatiya Janata Party is a close second in terms of popularity. Apart from these two, India has a plethora of regional parties, many of which differ from one state to the next. In Tamil Nadu, for example, both the BJP and the Congress have no sway because the state is governed by regional parties like the AIADMK and the DMK, among others. Most of these parties, on the other hand, do not subscribe to a certain philosophy and instead formulate policies depending on public opinion, needs, and demands. 

System of voting

Both countries have a strong voting system, but the US system is far more flexible and advanced than India’s.

For example, in the United States, there are numerous ways to vote, including voting in person at polling stations on election day, voting absentee by mail, and voting early. In India, however, the only way to vote is to provide a valid voter ID, select a candidate on an Electronic Voting Machine, and get inked. Furthermore, in both countries, the scanning and counting of votes are done in a similar manner. 

Election commissions

India and the United States have autonomous election boards in charge of hosting elections. The Federal Election Commission and the US Election Assistance Commission are two federal bodies in the United States (EAC). However, because their mission is primarily limited to establishing campaign financing legislation, these institutions do not have the authority to exert control. 

The Election Commission of India (ECI), on the other hand, has more power to yield, as it is responsible for organizing elections, counting votes, establishing financial regulations, and enlisting the assistance of police and domestic military forces to ensure that the voting process is as incident-free as possible. 

Turnout in the polls

When compared to the United States, India has a substantially higher voter turnout. For example, below are the results of the most recent national elections in both countries. In the recently finished elections, only 61.8 percent of eligible voters in the United States voted, compared to 66.8 percent in India. 

In addition, the voting demography in the United States is predominantly elderly persons over the age of 65, who vote 25% more than the 18-24 age group. Based on this data, we can reasonably infer that India and the United States have a lot to learn from one another. For example, the United States needs to do a better job of engaging its youth, while India needs to make voting more accessible to its citizens. 

FAQs on Elections

Question 1: Why do we need elections?


We need elections for voters to choose their representatives who will make laws for them, form the government and make major decisions.

Question 2: Which authority conducts elections to the parliament?


The Election Commission of India conducts the elections to the parliament.

Question 3: What is a by-election?


An election to choose a new member of the Parliament for a particular town or area is called a by-election. It is held when the former member has died or has left the party suddenly.

Question 4: What makes elections in India democratic?


The elections in India are democratic as the citizens have the right to select the legislation regulating them. Each vote by each individual holds equal importance.

Question 5: Describe any three of the Indian Election Commission’s functions.  


The Election Commission of India has three key functions:

  • It makes decisions on all aspects of election conduct and control.
  • It is in charge of enforcing the code of conduct and can sanction any candidate or political party who breaks it.
  • It is in charge of the government officials assigned to election duties.

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Last Updated : 24 Feb, 2023
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