The Pro-Incumbency Century

The Pro-Incumbency Century





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560 mins

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Book Description

The dominant discourse in media debates before, during, and after elections in India revolves around “anti-incumbency”. Even seasoned commentators and analysts who have covered dozens of elections reflexively chant anti-incumbency like a mantra. Yet, electoral data for more than two decades suggests that the discourse should rather focus on the “pro-incumbency” phenomenon in Indian politics. In the first round of 2022, barring Punjab, assembly elections in four other states UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa created history by returning incumbents to power. In 2021, not only did Mamata Bannerjee win a third consecutive term, but Pinnari Vijayan defied history by winning a second consecutive term. Jayalalitha did the unimaginable in Tamilnadu. While it all started with Sheila Dixit in 1998 who won three consecutive terms in Delhi, the winning formula was fine-tuned further by Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Dr. Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Tarun Gogoi, Pawan Kumar Chamling and many more Pro-incumbency champions. The book identifies and analyses factors responsible for making this a pro-incumbency century for India: the relentless rise of personality cults; ever-growing Presidential nature of electoral contests; the success of targeted welfare schemes and the structural weakness of opposition apart from the maturing split voting phenomenon. The book plugs a gaping hole in serious electoral analysis in contemporary India.

Yashwant Deshmukh
returning incumbents to power
pro incumbency phenomenon
electoral analysis in contemporary india

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