Panchayat leaders make decisions that can have a direct and immediate impact on villagers.

Historically, national elections in India have had an average voter turnout of about 60 per cent, but there have been massive differences in turnout both across India and across different elections.

Voter turnout is important for the legitimacy of democratic elections, and Indian elections are known for their high turnout. It is also crucial in determining who wins an election because the party preferences of those who vote occasionally are probably different from the party preferences of those who vote each time.

There is great variation in voter turnout in India across constituencies and over time. Our study shows that the size of the constituency also seems to have a large bearing on voter turnout.

In Figure 1, we show a bean plot of the turnout across all parliamentary constituencies in each general election since 1962. The grey shape of the beans shows the distribution of values across the parliamentary constituencies for that election year; the small black dots following the middle axis of each bean show the value on the y-axis for individual parliamentary constituencies; and the horizontal line in the middle of each bean indicates the average turnout across all the parliamentary constituencies in that year. A quick look at the figure tells us that the turnout in 2014, which brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to power, was the highest in India’s history.


Pradeep Chhibber is with the University of California, Berkeley. Francesca Jensenius teaches at the University of Oslo. Harsh Shah, an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley, is a political analyst and works in the private sector.

This is the second in a series of articles in ThePrint that will provide readers with comprehensive, research-based information about the Indian elections since 1962. The articles will also draw upon recent findings from Constructing a Majority: A micro-level study of voting patterns in Indian elections (forthcoming Cambridge University Press) by Francesca Jensenius, Pradeep Chhibber, and Sanjeer Alam. Read the first article here 

Article first published in The Print

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