Wednesday, May 18, 2005
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CHENNAI: According to conventional wisdom, a higher voter turnout goes against the ruling party. This is because anger is a strong motivating force: more people are likely to come out to vote if they are unhappy with the performance of the government than otherwise.
The voter turnout in Gummidipoondi and Kancheepuram was abnormally high, but the ruling All- India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was the beneficiary, and not the main Opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. However, it is not as if the additional voters made the difference between victory and defeat.
Actually, the DMK will have to explain why it slipped in voter esteem in the last one year. The party lost not only its share of the votes in percentage terms, but also in terms of absolute numbers.
In Gummidipoondi, against the 78,201 votes the Democratic Progressive Alliance secured in the Assembly segment in the last Lok Sabha election, the DMK got only 56,554 in the current byelection. More than 20,000 of the DPA supporters either stayed away from the election, or switched loyalty between 2004 and 2005.
In Kancheepuram too, against the 80,725 the DPA got in the Lok Sabha election, the DMK managed only 69,621 votes, a drop of more than 10,000. Thus, irrespective of the gains the AIADMK might have made from the higher turnout, the DMK would have to explain its own losses within the space of a year.
The AIADMK's gains in the two constituencies were spectacular compared to not only its admittedly poor performance in the 2004 election, but also in relation to its good showing in the 2001 Assembly election. In Gummidipoondi, the party got 38,476 votes more than it got last year, and 10,249 votes more than in 2001. In Kancheepuram, it got 30,887 votes more than in 2004, and 3,028 votes more than in 2001.
Although most of the allies of the AIADMK in 2001, the Congress, the Left parties and the Pattali Makkal Katchi, are with the DMK now, the party managed to improve on its 2001 performance.
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