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Hyper-Plurality of Candidates, Effectiveness of Democratic Representation and Regulation of Candidate Entry in India

Kaushik, Bhattacharya and Subrata K, Mitra (2013): Hyper-Plurality of Candidates, Effectiveness of Democratic Representation and Regulation of Candidate Entry in India.

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Abstract

The presence of large number of candidates in Indian elections had often evoked extremely strong policy recommendations from different expert groups. The major policy tool to control candidate entry in India had, however, been electoral deposit. Using panel data on elections in different states and UTs, our study estimates the impact of electoral deposit on candidate entry. Results suggest that increase in deposit had a substantial short-term negative impact on candidate entry. The candidate structure in India, however, is fairly persistent due to feedbacks in political opportunity. For effective deterrence on continuous basis, regulators, therefore, need to change deposit frequently and keep it at a high level compared to the current international benchmark. We observe that the high deposit may not be an effective barrier against unethical practices like cloning, but could discriminate political participation of genuinely underprivileged groups. In contrast, the current level of signature requirement, a relatively unused policy tool for controlling candidate entry, is found to be low in India and could be easily increased further in order to be effective. We argue that given the high variation and lack of stability in candidate structure across regions and over time, a local approach on signature requirement -- as in the US -- could be an effective deterrent in India. Accordingly, we suggest that the Election Commission of India (ECI) should not only have the power to determine the deposit before each election, it should also have the power to change the minimum signature requirement across constituencies under certain pre-specified conditions.

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