Vote Choice of Indian Voters: Guided or Independent?

AuthorShreyas Sardesai,Vibha Attri
Published date01 December 2017
Date01 December 2017
Subject MatterFrom Lokniti’s Data Archive
From Lokniti Da ta Archives
Vote Choice of Indian Voters:
Guided or Independent?
Shreyas Sardesai1
Vibha Attri2
The article probes the independence of vote choice among Indian voters during national elections.
Analyzing Lokniti’s election survey data it highlights that even as a majority of voters take an independ-
ent call on who they are going to vote for, there is still a significant proportion that votes according to
someone else’s advice. While this counsel has always come from a family member mostly, voters are
increasingly paying attention to a community leaders’ opinion as well, particularly those voters who
belong to marginalized and minority social groups. Dependent voting is also more prevalent among
women and voters in socio-economically backward states.
India, voters, advice, heed, follow, guided, influenced, independent
In the previous issue of Studies in Indian Politics (5(1), 82–91), this section had explored the issue of
‘timing of vote choice’ of Indian voters or when they make up their mind about who to vote for. In this
issue, we look at another aspect of voting behaviour: that is, how do voters arrive at their vote choice?
Do they decide which party or candidate they are going to vote for all by themselves or according to
someone else’s advice (not to be confused with political discussions and deliberations which are central
to democratic politics)? In other words, is their vote choice entirely their own or does another person(s)
play a role in influencing their mind? While we know for sure that more and more voters, women
especially, are turning out to vote in India’s state and national elections than ever before, we have little
idea about how truly independent or free from influence this increased voter participation is. Some writ-
ings have analyzed this issue in some detail by probing Lokniti’s election studies data from an election
or two (Kumar & Gupta, 2015; Sadanandan, 2017), but what is lacking is an over-time analysis spanning
a couple of elections that provides us with a trend line—not just a broad one, but for disaggregates too.
For instance, whose advice do voters pay attention to; and have there been any changes in their reference
1 Research Associate, Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India.
Research Officer, Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Shreyas Sardesai, 29, Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi 110054, India.
Studies in Indian Politics
5(2) 276–285
© 2017 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2321023017727985

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