Today, we launched a brand new Carnegie Endowment initiative called “India Elects 2019.” This initiative, which builds on what we did four years ago (with “India Decides 2014“), attempts to provide timely research and analysis on electoral trends in India ahead of next year’s general election.
The first essay in the series, “From Cakewalk to Contest,” provides a macro picture of where the race stands today. Here’s a glimpse:
Electoral outcomes are notoriously difficult to predict in India’s fragmented, hypercompetitive democracy. But one need not go out on a limb to declare that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be the clear favorite if the election were held today…Yet the election’s clear front-runner is far from invulnerable, despite anticipation of a BJP cakewalk in 2019. Although the intricacies of the upcoming race—such as the selection of candidates and the rhetoric of campaigns—remain unknown one year out, underlying structural conditions suggest far rockier terrain may lie ahead. In particular, four crucial objectives keep BJP strategists up at night: expanding beyond regional strongholds, recruiting new—and retaining old—coalition partners, withstanding a disappointing economic performance, and contending with fluctuations in voter mobilization. The party’s performance in the 2019 election will hinge largely on its ability to address these potential vulnerabilities and the opposition’s ability to exploit them.
This year, we have partnered with the Hindustan Times, which will carry our original content in print and online. We will also collaborate with them on infographics and video. HT put together a lovely full-page spread for our inaugural piece:
You can read the full Carnegie essay here.