Thursday, May 14, 2009

[Investors Please Listen] \Election Watch IV - Mission 272: The final act

 

UPA has marginal edge, predict exit polls

According to most exit polls, the possibility of a UPA government coming in to power at the Centre is the highest. However, the lead for UPA over NDA will be thin. The key edge the former enjoys is the possibility of Left's support, in case needed. UPA is likely to garner about 200 seats and NDA is expected to come a close second with about 190 seats. Possibility of a Third Front government is almost ruled out.

 

Exit poll results - 2009

Source: Business Standard, Edelweiss research

 

 

UPA likely to form government; possibility of Left support added advantage

UPA (INC, DMK, AITC, NCP) can form the government with support from the SP-RJD-LJP alliance. RJD and LJP have been part of the current government since 2004 elections, while SP came to the rescue of INC when the Left Front withdrew support to the government in July 2008. These parties are likely to continue extending support to UPA as it is emerging a lead contender to form the government. As per exit poll projections, UPA (with its alliances) should be close to the magic figure of 272. It also has the advantage of seeking support from Left parties, in case needed. Left parties, if convinced about the non-viability of the Third Front, are likely to support UPA to prevent formation of a BJP-led government.

 

Can NDA spring a surprise?

The NDA, on the other hand, has the handicap of not getting the support of Left parties under any circumstances. The alliance has already lost a few allies of previous elections (eg., BJD in Orissa) in the pre-poll alliance stage. The split of Shiv Sena has further made the extended-Saffron family weak.

 

However, most of NDA's 'friends' are likely to see a swing of seat-share in their favour. For example, AIADMK is likely to benefit from anti-incumbency in Tamil Nadu; JD(U), on the other hand, is likely to benefit (at the cost of RJD) owing to its improved popularity following assembly elections in Bihar. In case NDA does better than exit poll projections, support from the BSP is also not ruled out given the non-viability of a Third Front. BSP is likely to support BJP over UPA—the likely ally of its arch-rival SP. BJP's own exit polls predict 166 seats for the party and 217 for the NDA alliance.

 

Third Front: Not a viable option

With UPA and NDA together expected to garner close to 400 seats, possibility of Third Front government reduces significantly. Loss of seat-share for Left will be a big setback for Third Front hopes. Even with all possible combinations of Left Parties, TDP, BJD, AIADMK, NCP, Praja Rajyam, PMK, and either of BSP and the SP-RJD-LJP block, the Third Front will find it difficult to come close to the magic figure of 272.

 

In the event of UPA falling short of exit poll projections and its resulting inability to form the government, INC may extend support to the Third Front to prevent a BJP-led government from coming in to power at the Centre.

 

Parties at loggerheads to steer clear of alliances

In the game of coalition politics, there are certain parties which, in all likelihood, will not come together, primarily reflecting their strong rivalries at the state/regional level (e.g., SP and BSP in UP, RJD and JD(U) in Bihar, and DMK/PMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu). Also, the strong ideological differences of the Left Front vis-à-vis BJP will deter them from joining hands. Such factors will be important considerations in the formation of post-poll alliances.

 

The catch: Are exit polls influenced by consensus?

During the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2004, all exit polls had predicted that NDA will score substantially over UPA. However, the results were drastically different. It seems, in hindsight, that exit polls were influenced by the consensus prevailing at that time.

 

During the run-up to current elections, expectations had been of a divided Parliament with UPA being the most likely contender to form the government. Currently, most exit polls predict a similar result, which raises the concern of whether exit polls tend to get influenced by the consensus prevalent in the media.

 


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