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Re: Electoral reform



If we are speaking of principles, here are mine

(1) Campaign finance is a freedom of expression (FOE) issue. Consequently I
am against any limits or state funding.

However, FOE does not mean that I should be provided a platform, or
loudspeakers or whatever, to propagate my views just because I think they
are the most important and true. It would be wrong for me to use the
coercive arm of the state to force those who do not agree with me to pay
taxes to support my campaign.

Equally, this stress on campaign finance limit also seem to imply to me a
great sense of mistrust in the judgment of our people. It would be worth
recollecting that it is this illiterate, malnourished, gullible electorate
that had been singularly responsible for the 1977 electoral verdict. And
since then, but for the 1984 elections, every general election in India has
seen the defeat of the ruling party/coalition. Today, but for states like
West Bengal, no ruling party in any of the states have a resonable chance of
getting reelected. Indeed, according to the Election Commission, the
reelection rate of legislators in India is barely 33%. Far lower than those
in most democratic countries. In the US the reelection rate seems to hover
over 90%.

While money is necessary for campaigns, and ruling parties have great
advantage of doling out patronage, lets not underestimate the sagacity of
our own people.

(2) Political Parties and corporations are a freedom of association issue.

Any restrictions on them will in effect mean that people cannot voluntarily
come together to promote their political views, quite irrespective of what I
might think of those views.

(3) Transparency is a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

>I was asking for transparency. You also wanted it. This limit, in my view,
>will drive transparency out once again, and very quickly. Do not empower a
>petty bureaucrat somewhere to set and "impose" limits (ie. to get his
>bribes).  - SS

I agree. There are many laws in India which are aimed at corporate
accountability. And it is an open secret that 1/3 to 1/2 of Indian economy
is underground. Therefore, without changing the institutional and incentive
structures that are at the root corruption, introducing another level of
transparancy for the political parties will at best have a very modest
impact. And at worst it will only increase the premium on bribes and under
the table deals.

I am enjoying this debate on this forum. Comments welcome.

Barun
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