Karnataka Elections Aftermath

The 2018 Karnataka assembly election is done and dusted. This year’s iteration was a long and strange trip that saw countless twists and turns.

I wrote a short piece for the Hindustan Times on the implications of the election for India’s domestic politics. Here’s a taste:

Karnataka could prove a bittersweet victory for the Congress. This is a state in which the party hurled everything but the kitchen sink at the BJP, yet still finds itself at the mercy of a smaller coalition ally….[H]owever diminished its standing, a coalition government in which the Congress is a prominent part will help it both substantively and materially.

For Foreign PolicyI wrote a longer essay on how the Karnataka shenanigans shine a light on India’s democratic underbelly. A brief excerpt:

Arguably the biggest loser is Indian democracy. The Karnataka soap opera would be highly entertaining, if it did not so effectively shine a light on the underbelly of Indian elections. As in President Donald Trump’s United States, in India, divisive politics is ratings gold. Beneath the surface, however, lasting damage to norms and institutions is eroding trust in the system.

The HT piece can be found here and the longer Foreign Policy article is here.

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India Elects 2019: Is Higher Turnout Bad for Incumbents?

In India, there is a commonly held belief that higher turnout in elections is inherently bad for incumbents. While the origins of this piece of received wisdom are unclear, it is a trope that is carted out after each and every election. In a new piece as part of our India Elects 2019 series (done in collaboration with the Hindustan Times, Johnny Guy and I examine the association between turnout and incumbency drawing on a dataset of more than 120 state elections between 1980 and 2012. We find no empirical relationship between the two. We write:

What our analyses do reveal is that, despite the popularity of the notion that citizens come out to the polls in greater numbers when they are motivated to punish the incumbent government, three decades of electoral data present a more ambiguous picture. Voter turnout, the data suggest, is not necessarily pro- or anti-incumbent; rather, the relationship between these two variables is likely shaped by the specific context at hand. Similar analyses using national election data conducted by other researchers tell a comparable story: changes in voter turnout are not highly informative of future electoral outcomes.

You can find our piece here (and below) and the original journal article (published in Studies in Indian Politics) here.

Incumbency Turnout HT epaper