The results of the Assembly elections held in four states and one Union Territory between April 4 and May 16 will be declared on Thursday (May 19).
Once the results start coming out, a lot of interest will be generated on the arithmetic---how many seats have the parties won; what is the magic figure the parties need to achieve to form government; what is the vote-share of each party and what is their contested vote shares. [ABP-Nielsen tries post poll instead of exit poll]
Here we explain the basic aspects that one needs to understand on an election result day:
The legislature of a state Assembly has a definite number of seats (just like in the Lok Sabha, it is 543). Each constituency is considered a seat and the parties field their own or an alliance partner's candidate from each of those seats against the rival party/alliance to win them. Sometimes, two or more allies make an understanding between them on allotment of seats, taking into consideration their strengths and weaknesses in particular constituencies. [What exit polls 2016 said]
Here is the number of seats/constituencies in the states that have gone to polls this year: West Bengal - 294; Tamil Nadu - 234; Kerala - 140; Assam - 126 and Puducherry - 30.
by magic figure, we mean the majority mark in a legislature which is half+one. Whichever party or alliance wins more than half the number of seats in the legislature forms the government. If no party or alliance can reach that magic figure, then we have a hung Assembly/Parliament. In that case, the party/alliance closest to the magic figure makes a bid to form the government.
If it fails, then the party/alliance ranked second can make a bid. Sometimes, a third party/alliance plays the role of the king-maker by supporting a party/alliance which doesn't have the required numbers.
Here are the magic figures for the states that went to the polls this year:
West Bengal - 148 (147, half of 294 plus 1); Tamil Nadu - 234 (118, half of 234 plus 1); Kerala - 71 (70, half of 140 plus 1); Assam - 64 (63, half of 126 plus 1) and Puducherry - 16 (15, half of 30 plus 1).
By vote-share, one means the percentage of total votes a party/alliance has secured in an election. Vote-share is different from seats and the two figures can be confusing. For example, the Bahujan Samaj Party of Mayawati finished third after the BJP and Congress in terms of vote share (4.1%) in the 2014 general election.
It also finished third in UP with over 19 per cent vote-share after the BJP and the Samajwadi Party. But yet, it couldn't win a single seat.
The BJP, on the other hand, bagged 282 seats (52 per cent of the total seats) in that election by winning only 31.3 per cent vote-share. The conversion of the vote-share into seats is hence tricky and depends on a party's concentration of power among a particular region and its demography.
Contested vote share:
This means the votes a party has secured as a percentage of the total number of votes polled in a particular seat or constituency, and not the entire state or country. For example, a state had an election to 100 Assembly seats and in all 200 votes were polled in it. If a party/alliance gets 50 votes, then its vote-share is 25 per cent.
But if contested in only 50 seats where the total number of votes polled is 100, then its contested vote-share is 50 per cent. Contested vote-share gives a more clear picture about the regional parties' performance, which are more limited to their own state(s).