An elephantine election
IT WAS the biggest exercise in democracy ever. More than half a billion people voted in India’s general election—so huge that polling had to be staggered over six weeks to accommodate the country’s 834m registered voters. Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won a crushing victory over the incumbent Congress party of Sonia Ghandi. To give a sense of the magnitude of the election, our chart compares the turnout and registered voters of each Indian state with the nearest equivalent country.
So Punjab’s turnout is as large as Australia’s. Spain could substitute for Gujarat. (To avoid repeating countries or because of gaps in election sizes, in some instances we’ve strayed gently from the closest match. Hence Uttar Pradesh’s 81m voters are closest in number to Russia, where 72m people participated in the 2012 elections).
Not only is India the world’s biggest democracy, it is also one of the keenest. Two-thirds of India’s registered voters cast a ballot, whereas the turnout is far lower in America and most of Europe, the putative lands of democracy.