The BJP won more than 52% of the vote share in the recently concluded Gujarat Assembly Elections in 2022. This is the first time for the party to have secured more than 50% vote share in a state assembly election contesting alone. But how many times in the past has a party polled more than 50% of the vote? Here is an analysis.
In the recently concluded Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained power in the state by winning 156 out of the 182 assembly seats in the state. Historically, this is the highest number of seats won by a political party in Gujarat Assembly elections. In terms of vote share, BJP secured 52.5% of the total votes polled in the elections.
One has to go back to 2015 when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) secured 54.3% of the total vote in the Delhi Assembly elections, the only such occasion in a state other the North-Eastern states in 25 years. But how many times has it happened since 1950 that a party secured more than 50% of the polled vote in an Assembly or Parliament elections? Here is ananalysis.
Methodology: The data on Election results published by Election Commission of India on its website is considered for analysis. Only individual political parties are considered for analysis i.e. coalitions that won more than 50% are excluded.
42 instances of a political party polling more than 50 % of the vote share
No individual party has ever secured more than 50% vote in a Parliamentary Election, but in assembly elections, an individual party secured more than 50% of the vote on 42 occasions (including Gujarat 2022).
In 1951, Indian National Congress (INC) managed to secure more than half of the votes polled across 4 states. This includes Sourashtra, Coorg , Bhopal (the three no longer exist as states) & Delhi.
The current result in Gujarat, is not the first time in the state where a party polled more than 50%. This was the fifth time that a political party has received a decisive mandate by securing more than 50% of the vote share. While, the 156 seats won by BJP is the highest in state’s history, the vote share is not the highest. INC secured 55.5% of the vote share in 1985 state assembly elections.
As highlighted earlier, it was 7 years ago that another political party managed to secure more than 50% in Assembly elections i.e. AAP in Delhi.
However, one has to go back to much farther i.e., 1990, for a political party to secure more than 50% of votes share in a large state. Janata Dal secured 53.7% of votes in Odisha Assembly elections in 1990. Post that, this happened only in the smaller North-Eastern states.
It happened most times in Sikkim
Out of the 42 times that a political party secured more than 50% of vote share, the most times it happened is in Sikkim (6 times). In 1985 Assembly elections, Sikkim Sangram Parishad secured 62.2% of the vote share, the first time in the state. This was repeated in the next elections. After a break, in four successive assembly elections i.e., 1999, 2004, 2009 & 2014, the Sikkim Democratic Front secure more than 50% of vote share.
This feat of a political party securing more than 50% vote share happened in 18 different states. Gujarat has the second highest number of such instances with 5 and also the highest among the large states.
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir (when it was a state) & Karnataka have 3 such instances each.
Which Political party achieved this feat the most number of times?
The 2022 Gujarat elections were the first time that BJP has managed to secure more than 50% of the votes polled in a state assembly election contesting alone. Overall 9 different political parties have achieved this feat.
The Indian National Congress did this the highest number of times with 30. The most recent was in 2009, in Arunachal Pradesh, where the INC secured 50.4% of the vote share.
If the large states are considered, the last time INC secured more than 50% of the vote share was in 1985. It secured 55.5% in Gujarat and 51.08% in Odisha.
Only two other political parties have managed to do this more than once, both of them belonging to Sikkim. The Sikkim Democratic Front won consecutively for four terms – 1999, 2004, 2009 & 2014. Prior to that, the Sikkim Sangram Parishad did in two consecutive terms – 1985, 1989.
Such occurrences have become rarer in the recent decades
Out of the 42 times that a party has secured more than 50% vote share, 19 have been during the decades 1971-80 and 1981-90. During the first decade of the Indian republic, this happened in 6 assembly elections, all by INC. In the next three decades it was 7, 10 & 9 respectively.
The 90s were a decade of political instability and during that period, this occurred only in 4 Assembly elections, all in North-Eastern states. The occurrences became much rarer, with only 6 such instances since the turn of the century.
Various reasons can be cited for the emergence of this trend. Unlike the earlier decades, there is no single party dominance like in case of INC that dominated the elections. The emergence of strong regional & sub-regional parties & national alternatives, alliances among parties, etc. have contributed to a fractured vote share. Apart from AAP’s victory in 2015, BJP’s recent performance in Gujarat is significant in this context.
SDF’s performance in 2004 Sikkim elections is the best ever
As already highlighted above, two regional parties from Sikkim i.e., Sikkim Sangram Parishad and Sikkim Democratic Front are the only ones that have managed to repeat this feat more than once apart from the INC. They also occupy 3 out of top-5 positions in terms of vote share secured by a party.
In 2004 Sikkim Assembly elections, Sikkim Democratic Party retained power in the state on the back of polling 71.09% of the vote share. This bettered the performance of Sikkim Sangram Parishad in 1989 assembly elections of 70.41%.
Among the large states, National Conference in the erst-while state of Jammu & Kashmir secured 66.96% of the vote share in 1962 elections.
The best performance of Indian National Congress in terms of vote share was in the erst while state of Saurashtra in 1951 with 63.79% of vote share.
A political party has managed to win all the seats only twice
In the recent Gujarat assembly elections of 2022, BJP has managed to win 156 out of 182 seats, which is around 85.7% of the total seats. Earlier in 2015, AAP which secured 54.3 % of the votes has managed to win 67 out of 70 assembly seats in Delhi.
Only on two occasions in the last has the winning party secured more than 50% of the votes and has won all the seats. In 1989 Sikkim Assembly elections, the Sikkim Sangram Parishad has won all the 32 seats and secured a vote share of 70.41%. In 2009, Sikkim Democratic Front has repeated the feat with 65.9% vote share winning all 32 seats on offer.
India follows a first-past-the-post system, which often means that the number of seats won is not necessarily proportionate to the vote share secured.