One Nation One Election
Why in news? Union government has formed the committee under former President of India Ram Nath Kovind, to look into the feasibility of simultaneous elections to State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha.
- Simultaneous elections for the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha were the norm in India till 1967.
- Things changed when some legislative assemblies were dissolved prematurely in 1968 and 1969 and the Lok Sabha in 1970.
What is One nation One election ?
- ‘One Nation, One Election’ refers to holding simultaneous elections across the country. Elections for the Lok Sabha and all state assemblies across India will be held simultaneously with voting presumably taking place around the same time.
- Currently, elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately after the five-year term of the incumbent government ends or if it is dissolved due to various reasons.
What are the advantages of one nation one election ?
- Reduce expenditure: One of the major reasons to hold simultaneous elections would be to cut down on the costs involved in separate elections. As per reports, a whopping Rs 60,000 crore was spent on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections
- Increase efficiency: Normal administrative duties are affected by elections as officials engage in polling duties.
- Continuity in the policies: It will also help ensure continuity in the policies and programs of the central and state governments. Currently, the Model Code of Conduct is imposed whenever elections are set to take place, putting a ban on the launch of new projects for public welfare for that period.
- Boost voter Turn vote : The Law Commission said holding simultaneous elections will boost voter turnout as it will be more convenient for them to cast votes at once.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: Political parties and candidates can allocate their resources, including time and manpower, more efficiently when elections are held together, optimizing their campaigns.
- Curb black money : Elections lead to flow of black money in economy , once in 5 years elections that will reduce its flow & generation
What are the disadvantages?
- Constitutional and Legal Hurdles: Holding simultaneous elections would require constitutional amendments to sync up the terms of the state legislative assemblies with that of the Lok Sabha. Further, the Representation of the People Act as well as other parliamentary procedures will also need to be amended. Article 83, Article 85, Article 172 and Article 174 will be amended
- Impact on Regional Parties: The major fear of regional parties over simultaneous elections is that they would not be able to raise their local issues strongly as national issues take centre stage. They would also be unable to compete with national parties in terms of election expenditure and election strategy.
- Marginalize Regional Party : A study conducted by the IDFC Institute in 2015 found that there is a 77 per cent chance that voters will choose the same winning political party or alliance in the state assembly and the Lok Sabha if elections are held simultaneously.
- Affects cooperative federalism : fears of challenges posed by simultaneous elections to the country’s federalism.
- Logistical and Administrative Challenges: EVMs also have a lifespan of 15 years, which means under a system of simultaneous polls, each EVM would only be used three times before needing a replacement
- Voter Fatigue and Information Overload: Longer election cycles may lead to voter fatigue and reduced engagement, as voters may become overwhelmed by the volume of information and campaigns over an extended period
- The Commission – then headed by former Justice B.P Jeevan Reddy – in its 170th Report on Reform of Electoral Laws (1999) had cautioned that such elections cannot be held overnight.
Who supports the idea?
- Election Commission in 1983 proposed to bring back simultaneous elections.
- The 1999 Law Commission report also pushed for simultaneous elections.
- In 2017 NITI Aayog had also suggested simultaneous two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls noting the disruption caused to governance due to frequent polls.
- In December 2022, the Law Commission sought the opinion of stakeholders including national political parties, the Election Commission of India, bureaucrats, academicians and experts on the proposal to hold simultaneous elections in the country.
- Internationally, some countries that have one nation one election system include Belgium, France , Germany, Hungary , Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Spain and United Kingdom and others
- Any decision regarding its implementation would require careful consideration of its potential impact on India’s political landscape, governance, and federal structure. Ultimately, the feasibility and desirability of simultaneous elections depend on various factors, including constitutional amendments, political consensus, and logistical preparedness.