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Strategic Entry and the Relationship between Number of Independent and Non-Independent Candidates: A Study of Parliamentary Elections in India

Bhattacharya, Kaushik (2011): Strategic Entry and the Relationship between Number of Independent and Non-Independent Candidates: A Study of Parliamentary Elections in India.

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Abstract

The paper attempts to examine the nature and the extent of strategic entries of independent candidates in elections following FPTP rule. The paper observes that besides individual incentives of the candidates, a major factor behind the emergence of independents under FPTP systems could be the surreptitious strategic floating of such candidates by major political parties. Accordingly, the paper proposes to use the number of non-independent candidates in a constituency as a readily observable ex ante proxy for political fragmentation and hypothesizes a strong functional relationship between non-independent and independent candidates. Empirical results for all parliamentary elections in India since 1962 reveal that during the first four elections in our reference period (e.g., during 1962—1977), the relationship was weak, as many independent candidates during this period were regional feudal satraps who either participated in elections with Congress support or posed the only challenge to Congress in their locality. However, political fragmentation and bitter fight among political parties in India during the 1980s gave birth to a new class of independents whose entries into the elections were primarily strategic in nature, leading to a strong relationship between the above two variables during this period.

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