India's election result strengthens democratic processes in Asia

Beatrice E. Rangel

By: Beatrice E. Rangel - 05/06/2024

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The longest electoral process in the world has just ended in India. After six weeks of voting, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to preserve the preferences of the electorate, managing to elect 240 parliamentarians out of a universe of 543. And even though this result was lower than that of 2019 when the BJP placed 303 supporters in Congress there is clearly a political achievement for the government. Because it indicates that Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed to overcome the ravages of COVID 19 and the relative economic cooling of the following years.

The seats won by the Congress Party led by Raoul Gandhi, for their part, point to a path of democratic reinforcement. The beneficiaries of the popular vote were very young figures committed to causes of local interest to Indian civil society. Such is the case of the preservation of watersheds; the promotion of artisanal techniques in agriculture and the promotion of green energies.

But perhaps the most important thing about the election results in India has been the attitude of civil society towards Modi's absolutist outbursts. Clearly the electorate did not support his crusade to impose Hinduism as the dominant culture and religion when the BJP candidates who had been champions of that cause were defeated. Nor did they accompany him in his globalist pretensions when he elected parliamentarians within the BJP and the opposition alliance who stand out for their preference for public policies aimed at eradicating poverty. The age shift in the selection was also notable since the young candidates prevailed in all the games. Some with international experience. All with roots in civil society. In the process most parties have learned an important lesson: India wants to strengthen the roots of its democracy.

These results will surely impact a group of Asian nations in which India exerts influence. These countries include Malaysia, Thailand, Bhutan, the Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos.

The political groups of all these nations maintain close ties with Indian parties, exchange electoral advisors and are part of international party brotherhoods. And they all drink from the waters of India's democracy. Therefore, possibly in the next decade we will witness the end of the democratic recession in Asia and we will witness a rebirth of institutionality.

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