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Gross Violations of Duverger’s Law in India


  • Peter Mayer

    (Peter Mayer, Politics Department, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, S.A. 5005, Australia. E-mail:


In his famous study of the impact of electoral regimes on party systems, Duverger suggested that two-party systems are always found to be associated with single-member constituencies where candidates are elected by a plurality of votes (Duverger, 1964).Many studies of what Rae called the political consequences of electoral laws have tended to confirm this well-known electoral ‘law’. A few studies (Betz, 2006; Chhibber and Murali, 2006; Diwakar, 2007, 2010), however, have drawn attention to India’s exceptionalism in terms of party aggregation.This article explores a relatively minor—and thus less-examined but nonetheless puzzling—aspect of Indian exceptionalism: the spectacular failure overall of candidates (and of minor parties) to conform to Duverger’s law. Since 1957, the first national election after States Reorganisation, the average number of candidates standing in Lok Sabha constituencies in all states has tended to rise. In 2004, for example, in all but four states there were more than 10 candidates per constituency in over 90 per cent of constituencies.In this article I explore why neither the mechanical nor the psychological processes commonly understood to be so compelling elsewhere exert significant influence in India. This suggests that there are hitherto unrecognized presuppositions to Duverger’s law.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Mayer, 2013. "Gross Violations of Duverger’s Law in India," Studies in Indian Politics, , vol. 1(2), pages 179-201, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:indpol:v:1:y:2013:i:2:p:179-201

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    India; elections; Duverger’s law; candidates;


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