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How Do Politicians Recover Their Costs? The Political Economy of Representative Democracy in India

Authors: Subramaniam Chandran


This paper explores the features of political economy in the dynamics of representative politics in India. Politics is seen as enhancing economic benefits through acquiring and maintenance of power in the realm of democratic set up. The system of representation is riddled with competitive populism. Emerging leaders and parties are forced to accommodate their ideologies in coping with competitive politics. Electoral politics and voting behaviour reflect series of influences mooted by the politicians. Voters are accustomed to expect benefits outs of state exchequer. The electoral competitors show a changing phase of investment and return policy. Every elector has to spend and realize his costs in his tenure. In the case of defeated electors, even the cost recovery is not possible directly; there are indirect means to recover their costs. The series of case studies show the method of party funding, campaign financing, electoral expenditure, and cost recovery. Regulations could not restrict the level of spending. Several cases of disproportionate accumulation of wealth by the politicians reveal that money played a major part in electoral process. The political economy of representative politics hitherto ignores how a politician spends and recovers his cost and multiples his wealth. To be sure, the acquiring and maintenance of power is to enhance the wealth of the electors.

Keywords: Political Economy, electoral politics, representative politics, costrecovery

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