DEMOCRACY, POLLS

Democracy is facing odds in its traditional strongholds. The recent US presidential elections cast a new shadow over this governance system. That the incumbent president Donald Trump was not ready to acknowledge the election results and is now alleging “fraud” presents a curious case. This, even as the polls were held directly under his watch. He took legal recourse to nullify the verdict that went in favour of Democratic nominee Joe Biden. There is no full guarantee yet that the swearing in of the next president in January would be smooth.

The fact that such chaos erupted in what was the world’s strongest democracy – and the oldest – goes to show the future of democracy worldwide might not be very rosy.

India is the world’s largest democracy in terms of people’s participation. Notably, the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 ended in a controversy as the Opposition alleged tampering of electronic voting machines by the Modi government. The Election Commission denied any irregularity. India has a sound election machinery in the form of ECI. Yet, the side that lost the polls did not think it fit to accept defeat gracefully. The protests turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

The Bihar assembly elections were done in a remarkably orderly fashion this time, unlike the chaos that reigned the elections in the state long ago. Nitish Kumar as CM in the last 15 years had helped restore order to conduct fair polls in Bihar This time, yet, the RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav is not willing to accept defeat and has alleged “fraud” in the elections at the behest of the BJP-RJD combine. There was very little margin vis-à-vis total votes polled for the two rival formations. Prima facie, nothing went wrong. Else, he will now have to come up with proof. The power transfer to a new government has been smooth. That much must be said to the credit of Indian democracy.

Democracy faced serious odds in Europe as well, as was evident in relation to the Brexit referendum and the problems it posed to the political leadership. Heads rolled. There was too much confusion and the efficacy of the democratic system itself was called into question.

By contrast, China that has a one-party system, detached from democracy, is seeing smooth governance and no cacophony. Governance is more focused and visionary. Freedom is a casualty, though. Limited democracies as in Singapore are also doing well. It is imperative that Democracy be given a chance to perform better universally.

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