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Elections in UK & India: Similar yet so different

By Dr Kashinath Basu

The British and Indian parliamentary system is very identical in paper; however the practice is quite different on the ground. [David Cameron names all-Conservative cabinet]

Different breeds of politicians

To start with, the breeds of politicians are completely different. Here most are driven by values, are honest, have a strong urge to make a difference for better and majority of the candidates also have a strong academic background. There is still political point scoring and individual ambitions involved, but this is handled very professionally.


In UK, campaigning is focused

The election campaigning is very focussed on issues and especially this time there was a strong distinction between left-wing policies of the left-leaning Labour Party promising to reverse recent social welfare cuts and protect the state institutions versus the middle-right wing policies of the tories who wants to continue social reforms with more cuts on benefits and reduction in the size of the state institutions.

Modest poll campaigning in UK

The election campaigning does not include any big processions, gatherings or bill board ads like in India, but mostly restricted to visits and town and village hall meetings and TV ads.

In UK, campaigning is centred around the core leadership of the parties

These are very focussed and interactive in general. In addition, local party workers distribute leaflets at homes explaining the local and national policies of the party and the candidate in general. Although the United Kingdom has a parliamentary form of democracy, the campaigning is to a great extent centred around the core leadership of the parties.

There is occasionally some strong local leadership in certain constituencies, but this is rare. The election day is a very low key event; there is no public holiday or any festival atmosphere like in India.

The election boots are generally open from 7AM till 10PM and occasionally have few party agents present, mainly from the major three parties. The ballot counting process is very transparent and there are hardly any allegations of fraudulent activities. Once the election is over, the drama for the next government formation starts.

[The writer is based in Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK]

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