Introduction to the FPTP Election System:
FPTP System: The First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) electoral system is a method in which the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner. This system can sometimes disadvantage smaller social groups.
Concerns in the Indian Context: In the Indian social context, historical issues of caste-based discrimination make the FPTP system potentially disadvantageous for smaller and oppressed social groups. It may result in dominant social groups winning consistently while leaving the marginalized groups unrepresented.
Historical Context: Separate Electorates and Reserved Constituencies:
Separate Electorates: Before independence, the British government introduced a system of "separate electorates," where only voters belonging to a particular community were eligible to vote for a representative from that community.
Reserved Constituencies: The Constituent Assembly debated the effectiveness of separate electorates and decided to adopt the system of reserved constituencies. In this system, all voters in a constituency can vote, but candidates must belong to a specific community or social section for which the seat is reserved.
Constitutional Provision for Reserved Seats:
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: The Constitution provides for the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Initially, this provision was for ten years, but through constitutional amendments, it has been extended up to 2010, with the possibility of further extension.
Proportional Representation: The number of seats reserved for SCs and STs is in proportion to their share in the population of India. Currently, out of 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha, 79 are reserved for Scheduled Castes, and 41 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
Decision on Reserved Constituencies:
Delimitation Commission: The decision on which constituency to reserve is made by an independent body called the Delimitation Commission. Appointed by the President of India, this commission works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
Criteria for Reservation: The Delimitation Commission fixes a quota of constituencies to be reserved in each state based on the proportion of SC or ST population. It then looks at the composition of population in each constituency, reserving those with the highest proportion of Scheduled Tribe population for STs. In the case of Scheduled Castes, constituencies with higher proportions are chosen, with an effort to spread them across different regions of the state.
Potential for Rotation:
Lack of Reservation for Other Disadvantaged Groups:
Demand for Women's Reservation: While the Constitution provides reservation for SCs and STs, there is a growing demand for the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for women. Despite amendments being proposed in Parliament, no such reservation has been implemented yet.
Existing Reservation for Women: The text notes that reservation for women exists in rural and urban local bodies, but extending it to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas would require a constitutional amendment.
|1. What is proportional representation?
|2. How does proportional representation work?
|3. What are the advantages of proportional representation?
|4. What are the drawbacks of proportional representation?
|5. Which countries use proportional representation?