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Studying Elections

K.K. Kailash

Edited by Paul Wallace  and Ramashray Roy
Sage, Delhi, 2011, pp. xviii+412, Rs.995.00


Given the centrality that elections have come to occupy in the political fabric of this country, it is not surprising that election studies are one of the prominent and oldest research traditions in political science in India. Almost every election has been followed by a number of publications analysing its different dimensions. These studies have employed a variety of approaches, besides the now dominant survey research approach, others include case studies, anthropological studies, single-election studies and also interpretative and descriptive accounts (Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal, 2009). India’s 2009 Elections, the book under review, is the fourth successive election study by two renowned and respected experts on political parties and elections, Paul Wallace and Ramashray Roy. Like their previous collective volumes in which they analysed the 1998, 1999 and the 2004 General Elections, this study is also primarily located in the interpretative and descriptive studies tradition. As in the previous volumes, the Lok Sabha election is analysed by examining the political stories in different States. Compared to their previous study on the 2004 elections, this is a relatively larger volume and covers more States. The three new States are Karnataka, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. While Orissa and Assam have been dropped, Kerala is analysed in a separate chapter unlike in the previous volume. Meghalaya received separate treatment in 2004; however in the present study it is part of a chapter which covers six of the North Eastern States. The 17 chapters that comprise this volume are arran-ged in two parts. The first part deals with thematic studies and the second part focuses on analytical State studies. In the second part, the States covered are analysed under three categories based on party system types; these include one favoured (dominant) party system, alternating two-party systems and multiparty States. The volume brings out rich details of almost the entire panoply of political activities on display during an election including candidate selection, caste and community calculations, alliances and non-alliances, mergers and defections, sub-State political considerations, election campaigns and policy agendas, issue dimensions and axis of competition. The editors have however left it to the reader to draw not only the similarities and dissimilarities among States but also the generalizable conclusions. Paul Wallace’s introduction as in the earlier volume merely highlights some of the main talking points of elections 2009. If it was poverty and India shining in 2004, it is governance, stability and dynastic politics in 2009. Though it does raise key questions, ...

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