How Representative is the Lok Sabha?
Ours is a Westminster style Parliamentary system in which one who gets more votes than all others in the fray, gets elected. For instance, if 50,000 people cast their votes in a constituency and four candidates received 15,000, 14,000, 11,000, and 10,000 votes respectively, the first one who received less than one-third of the total votes gets elected. This is a feature of the first-past-the-post electoral system. In a multiparty system like ours, it often leaves more people unrepresented than the one whose votes actually elect a member to the legislature.
The statistics reveal the following for the 16th Lok Sabha:
Only 4 MPs received over 70% votes.
27 MPs received 60-70% votes.
170 MPs received 50 to 60% votes.
231 MPs received 40-50% votes.
106 MPs received 30-40% votes.
5 MPs received 20-30% votes.
(Note: Lok Sabha has 543 members)
BJP’s Darshana Vikram Jardosh received the highest percentage i.e., around 80% of votes from Surat constituency in Gujarat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won with a margin of over five lakh votes in Baroda, is also a top vote-getter.
The first-past-the-post system may work well in a two-party system like the US or the UK. But it leaves much to be desired in a multi-party system like ours where political parties represent ethnic groups or social components. Some countries such as Albania, Estonia, Israel, Argentina or Israel where the people vote for the party and parties nominate members to the Parliament in proportion to their votes.
France has a two-round system (also known as second round run-off voting). In this system several candidates vie for a seat in the National
Assembly. If no candidate gets the required number of votes (usually an absolute majority or 40-45% with a winning margin of 5-15%), then those candidates having less than a certain proportion of the votes, or all but the two candidates receiving the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting occurs.
Some countries have a system of multiple-member constituencies. For instance, in Mauritius, voters in each of the 20 constituencies elect three members each i.e., the first three candidates who got the most votes in order, reach the Parliament. Besides, the Supreme Court nominates 8 members from the ethnic communities to correct the balance of ethnic representation.
The debate on making the Parliamentary system more representative has been continuing in the country for long.