The world’s largest democratic election is set to take place in India. The election is divided into seven phases to help manage the number of people who could end up having their say on who should fill the 543 parliamentary seats, with some 900 million eligible to vote. Starting from April 11 to May 19, and the result will be announced on May 23.
This election process is not only the “largest democratic exercise” in history; it also the world’s most expensive. In 2014, the Lok Sabha (lower house) elections cost the Election Commission of India half a billion US dollars.
Several key issues are emerging in this election that will prove decisive in voter decision-making behaviour. Unsurprisingly, economic development is front and centre. Despite having one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, growth slowed to 6.4% in the final quarter of 2018, down from a peak of 8.2% in mid-2018.
Unemployment rates are at their highest since the 1970s, as the economy struggles to create jobs for rural migrants moving to cities and a large youth cohort now entering the labour market. Unemployment and inflation, which directly affect household incomes, are widely seen as the biggest concerns for Indians in the lead up to the election.