when the reserved seats are rotated, incumbent MLAs/MPs
get unseated in spite of their good performance and despite
carefully nurturing their constituencies. If a constituency
knows that it may be randomly selected as for reservation,
its representatives will lose incentive to build a strong
base of support. Voters will be subject to vast shifts in
the legislature every term, regardless of the previous legislator's
performance. This kind of instability will undercut political
accountability by reducing the incentive for legislators
to respond to the demands of voters.
women themselves will suffer in terms of legislative position.
While more women will be in the legislature, they will constantly
have to change or run from new districts, preventing their
own chances of creating a strong following based on their
political record. They will owe their position then, not
to a loyal electorate, but to party bosses. Though they
will not be legally barred from contesting in non-reserved
seats, they are unlikely to be given the party ticket to
do so in these areas. Effectively, women will only have
chances to contest against other women. This will ghettoize
women's politics and pure tokenism will replace legitimate
representation of women's concerns. Women will become a
burden on democracy rather than a means to increase competitiveness
and standards of representation.
any case, if the Bill becomes law, the male candidates replaced
will be tempted to nominate their female relatives as proxy
candidates to keep the seats warm for them. The women elected
on their own will never be able to build a political base
as they will lose the seats on rotation!
Indian elections have a very interesting property: women
seem to have a higher chance of getting elected than men!
On an average, only 10% of all male candidates were elected
(in 12 general elections up to 1998), while over 17% of
women were winners. Among the recognized party nominees,
only 26% of men were elected as opposed to 32% of women.
This is because Indian voters have never discriminated against
women candidates. It is the political parties which deny
women the opportunity.
brings us to a rather simple and robust solution: an electoral
system where party seats depend on the number of votes obtained.
In other words, proportionality based political representation.
Proportional Representation (PR) offers a natural and intelligent
way of increasing women's representation. Since PR requires
parties to have a majority vote in order to come to power,
they might lose out on the significant percentage of the
female vote by not nominating women. And the more women
get nominated, the more likely are they to win elections.
There would then be enough serious women candidates and
there will be no need for rotation of reservation, as constituencies
are not reserved.
the facts support our line of thinking? Yes, and overwhelmingly
so. All countries that have a PR-based electoral system
such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Holland,
New Zealand and Germany have a very high degree of women's
representation (30-35%). Countries that follow the Indian
style of First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system like
the USA, the UK and France have (not surprisingly) 'Indian
levels' of women in their legislatures - a paltry 10%. In
fact, in 1994, a threat by women supporters of major parties
in Sweden to form a new women's party led to women winning
41% of seats because major parties recruited more women