How India is won: The vote share story

If we analyse successive Indian general elections by party vote shares, it becomes clear how impossible it is for any party to get over 50% votes as well as how crucial it is for parties to plan their battle smartly, because a vote share of just over 20% for a party can produce a PM. ET drills down the data of more than seven decades of national elections.

1 No party, not even Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru, has won 50% vote share in any national elections, beginning 1951.

2 For 42 years and 8 general elections, till 1984, the party that won, Congress, had more than 40% of national vote share.


3 Vote share of the winning party/combine fell below 40%for the fi rst time in 1989, when the National Front won.

4 Vote share of the party that led the government was above 30% till 1991, when Congress led the govt. Vote share of the main winning party fell below 30% in 1996, when BJP fi rst and briefl y came to power. All winners from then till 2009, formed govts with less than 30% vote share.

5 It took 23 years, 1991 to 2014, for the party that led the government, BJP, to cross 30% vote share.

1 The biggest Congress victory, 48% vote share in 1984, was under Rajiv Gandhi, not his granddad Nehru or his mother, Indira Gandhi.

2 To see Congress’s relative decline as a national political behemoth, note that its vote share fell below 40% for the fi rst time in 1989, the election right after the one that got its highest vote share ever. Its vote share fell below 30% for the fi rst time in 1996. And there it stayed till 2009, even when it ran two govts in 2004 & 2009.

3 Congress vote share fell below 20% for the fi rst time in 2014.


1 BJP’s beginnings were of course utterly humble. It crossed 10% vote share for the fi rst time in 1989.

2 It crossed 20% vote share for the fi rst time in 1991, and kept it there till 2004, whether it was in government or Opposition.

3 But it slumped to below 20% again in ’09, when Congress-led UPA beat BJP-led NDA handsomely.

4 However, 5 years later, its national vote share jumped above 30%, the fi rst party to do so since 1991.

Conclusion: If any party or pre-poll combine crosses 30% national vote share in 2019, it would mark a signifi cant achievement.

( Originally published on Jan 28, 2019 )

Qataris vote in first legislative polls

Qataris were voting in the emirate’s first legislative election on Saturday, a symbolic nod to democracy that analysts say will not lead to power shifting away from the ruling family. The vote is for 30 members of the 45-strong Shura Council, a body with limited powers that was previously appointed by the emir as an advisory chamber.

Polls close at 1500 GMT and results are expected the same day. Voting began at 0500 GMT. More than one-third of the entire field, 101 candidates, had dropped out of the race by Saturday afternoon according to state-run Qatar TV, apparently to support other candidates in their constituencies. After the withdrawals, there were 183 candidates in contention for the 30 seats. The remaining 15 will be appointed by the emir.

Beyond single-candidate town hall meetings, posters and ads, the country’s electoral exercise has been limited, with no change of government possible and political parties outlawed. Candidates have uniformly avoided debate about Qatar’s foreign policy or status as a monarchy, instead focussing on social issues.

All candidates had to be approved by the powerful interior ministry and just one in 10 of the originally confirmed candidates were women. Most of Qatar’s 2.5 million residents are foreigners, ineligible to vote.