India

Presidential election takes place today


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Presidential election takes place today

India will elect a new president today in an indirect election to replace the incumbent president Pratibha Patil who completes her five year term on 25th July.

The Electoral College is made up of members of the national parliament and members of state legislative assemblies in a complicated calculation based on the number of voters allocated to each MP or state legislature.

For parliament there are 543 members of the lower house or Lok Sabha and 233 members of the upper house or Rajya Sabha making a total of 776 members, each of which exercises one vote with a weighting of 708 votes or 549,408 for the parliament.

Each of the Members of Legislative Authorities (MLA) then has a weighted vote depending upon the population in their state. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, a large state with 43,502,708 population and 294 legislators each legislator gets one vote valued at 148 votes. The total number of votes for the MLAs across the entire nation comes to 549,474.

In total there are 776 MPs and 4,896 MLAs who will vote with a total vote bank of 1,098,882 weighted votes.

The two candidates standing are Pranab Mukherjee of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Purno Sangma an independent with the backing of the opposition.

In addition to the Indian National Congress (INC) led UPA parties, Mukherjee is likely to get the support of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party and YSR Congress Party as well as the Communist Party of India-Marxist, All India Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena. If all of these parties vote as a bloc then Mukherjee should get around 60% of the vote.

Purno Sangma has the support of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Biju Janata Dal, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Shiromani Akali Dal and Asom Gana Parishad. These parties are likely to give Sangma around 32% of the vote.

There are a small number of parties who have indicated that they will abstain from the vote.

The presidential election is normally a quiet affair but this one has excited all of India with massive amounts of media coverage and speculation about who would be a candidate and who would support them. Part of the reason for this is that parliamentary elections may well be called early with no party looking like it will have a clear majority. The president plays a pivotal role in calling on a party to form a coalition government and may even help with the negotiations. That is why the Indian national Congress was so keen to have one of their most capable negotiators, Pranab Mukherjee, in the role.

Counting takes place on Sunday and the new president is likely to be sworn in by the end of next week.

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