The land of a million polling stations: India’s general election by the numbers
As India heads to the polls on April 11, the country will once again embark on the world’s biggest exercise in democracy over the coming weeks.
Here are the key numbers to consider as hundreds of millions of Indians prepare to decide who governs them for the next five years.
— 900 million
The size of the electorate. The last time India voted to choose a new national government, more than 830 million people were eligible to vote — and more than 550 million cast their ballots. India’s election authorities say that number will swell to 900 million this time round.
The total number of seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. Of these, two are filled by nominees from the Anglo-Indian community. For the rest, each seat represents a geographical constituency. The party that wins a majority of seats forms the government. If no single party wins enough seats, a coalition of parties can come together to govern and choose the Prime Minister.
— 1 million
The number of polling stations. Coordinating around 900 million voters is an incredible logistical challenge — and that includes setting up a million polling stations across the country to make sure all those who are eligible to vote, can.
— 10 million
Ensuring the integrity of the voting process also means deploying vast human resources. That includes an army of election officials. In fact, authorities say more than 10 million election officials will be managing the polling as it unfolds over several weeks.
The total number of political parties that participated in India’s last general election, back in 2014. While a handful of national parties — including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the principal opposition Congress Party — tend to dominate in New Delhi, smaller parties often exert great influence in different regions. In the event of a hung parliament, they also play a defining role in the formation of a coalition government.
The total number of candidates fielded by different parties across India during the 2014 contest. The number reflects both the vastness and diversity of India’s political system, with hundreds of parties — representing people with varying cultures and customs — contesting.
In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats in the Lok Sabha, the largest majority commanded by a single party in 30 years. With its allies, the party sailed comfortably past the 300 mark — a reflection of the popularity of its leader Modi, who became Prime Minister, and who will be seeking re-election this year.