The right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitutional law of the country. In India, every man or woman of 18 years of age is entitled to enroll himself or herself as a voter and to vote in the public elections.
Voting Behaviour: Some Observations:
Voting behaviour of the people is not uniform. It differs from place to place, culture to culture and time to time. It is very difficult to make generalisations about the way in which people vote in the elections.
The social scientific analysis of voting behaviour in Britain and America has been studied by various scholars. The studies revealed some of the facts about the voting behaviour of the people.
(i) The voting behaviour in Britain and America has since the 1950s, rested heavily on what is known as “the party identification model.” People tended to vote parties with which they had a long- term association and identification.
(ii) After the Second World War, for about 30 years in the Western nations the main influence on voting appears to have been the family. People tended to vote like their parents due to the impact of “political socialisation in the home.”
(iii) The factor of social class was associated with voting. For example, in Britain, in the postwar period about 2/3 of the manual working class voted for the Labour Party and 4/5 of the non- manual middle class voted for the Conservative Party.
(iv) The other important influence on the voting behaviour has been the “community”. For example, the middle-class voters living in predominantly working class communities are more likely to vote Labour Party than if they lived in a middle-class area. In the same way, working class voters living in middle-class areas show some tendency to vote the Conservative Party.
Studies have also revealed that since the mid 1970s voting has radically changed. Factors such as – mass media, the type of electioneering campaign, party performance, efficiency of the candidates, etc. – also have their own impact on the voting behaviour of the people.
Voting Behaviour in the Indian Context:
In India also the voting behaviour of the people has undergone a tremendous change. It is observed: “Given the level of literacy in India, political consciousness is remarkably high. Since independence, levels of political awareness and participation have risen among all segments of the population…” Political awareness is increasing even among the rural poor and illiterate populations.
There is an increase in the identification with political parties and leaders. Since the voting age is reduced to 18 years, even the college-going students get an opportunity to exercise their vote. With ‘ each election, millions of new voters enter the political arena as active participants.
Voting behaviour is influenced in the Indian context by various factors such as religion, caste, community, language, class, money, personal charisma of the leaders and also by certain unforeseen or accidental factors.
Though majority of Indian voters are found to be illiterate and ignorant, they are politically more alert than the educated persons. They take an active role in voting. They have shown on some occasion’s appreciable political maturity in unseating some of the inefficient state governments.
It is because of their faith in the democratic processes, interest in elections and active participation in voting, India continues to be the largest democracy in the world with 50 years of history.