World’s Largest Democracy Announces Election Dates

Following months of anticipation India, the world’s largest democracy finally announced the dates for its general elections. Unlike other democracies in which an election takes place over the course of a day, Indian’s will be heading to the polls over the span of five weeks beginning April 11. Polling will finish on May 19, and the votes will be counted on May 24. This election will see an eligible 820 million voters elect representatives to fill 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, or lower house.

This election will see if sitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) can gain a second term leading the world’s largest democracy and the third largest economy. The 2019 election will be a rematch of the 2014 election, as Prime Minister Modi’s rule will be challenged by the Indian National Congress (INC) and Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi was Prime Ministerial candidate for the INC in 2014, but Modi’s BJP went on to win the majority of the Lok Sabha. Both parties face a host of challenges in the run-up to next month’s election.

The BJP currently faces criticism over its handling of the economy after being elected on a wave of promises to help revitalize the Indian economy. Demonetization of India’s 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and the introduction of a Goods and Sales Tax have often been brought up by the opposition as example of a mishandled economy. Rising unemployment during the five years the BJP has been in power has also been a concern for the party. On the other side, the INC has faced questions about carving out an identity for itself. Despite being in power for many years following India’s democratization, the party has been perceived in recent years as fragmented following corruption scandals at the tail end of the INC’s last term in office. However, state elections in 2018 in key BJP strongholds such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan saw momentum swing towards the INC as voters became frustrated with the BJPs response to farmers’ concerns, as well as a lack of response to slowing job growth.