India’s Election; An information Failure

India is home to the largest democracy in the world. With over 900 million eligible voters, and 2100 political parties with conflicting beliefs both religious and political, the popular vote can come to some pretty unpredictable conclusions. The last election was in 2014, and nearly 70% of eligible voters participated, far more than the 58% that participates in the United States election, and even greater when compared to the midterms. These numbers suggest that while engaged in their politics, despite the intense diversity among political parties and citizens.

If we think of India’s voters as consumers, and the political parties and producers of a common good, then we can consider India’s election as one of the most saturated single outcome markets of all time. The fact that 900 million people can come to a single result among 2100 different options is incredible and extremely unlikely. In a practical outcome, not even close to the 900 million voters can have their first preference, some will have their last, but the majority will have their primary choice.

With so many options among so many people, split by both politics and religion, it’s fair to assume of any outcome as being an information failure. Not every voter can comprehend every party, and not every party can appeal to every voter. Faced with so many options, behavioral economics proposes that the individuals can resort to anchoring, the process of associated sounds or images with a choice, allowing visual or verbal queues to determine preference over rational decision making. This situation must arise in politics as well. In an election as complex as India’s, it’s no surprise that anchoring candidates is a must, the voter sacrifices information for the big picture, a blurry one, with few details. Framing is another facet of behavioral economics, and key within politics, as positioning ones party to be more agreeable than another very similar party should result in more votes. This is another potential barrier that voters face along with moral hazard, a consumers tendency towards carelessness in complex decisions.

In a political sense, especially in one so diverse, a voter’s preference can be denied numerous times, leading them into choices that eventually aren’t practical on their behalf, turning to decisions that they’ve framed and anchored as less radical, and less damaging for themselves as their only options. A majority of India’s voters don’t have perfect information, therefore establishing India’s Election an information failure.

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