India’s Month-long Elections Begin Today

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Apr. 16 – The largest democracy in the world, with about 714 million voters, began their month-long elections today in the first of five phases.

Citizens will cast their vote to decide their nation’s future from hundreds of political parties composed of politicians up for reelection and celebrities. It is expected that more young people will cast their ballots.

The massive election process will use more than 1.3 million electronic voting machines located at 828,804 polling stations.

The top two political parties, the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, are bound to win seats in the lower house of Parliament although none is expected to garner a controlling majority. “It will be a coalition government again, but we don’t know what the cocktail is going to be,” said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Delhi-based Center for Policy Research told the Chicago Tribune. “In the past 10 years, there was at least one party with a clear lead. If that doesn’t happen, things will be even messier.”

The Congress Party has been ruling the ruling party for five years and was criticized for its reaction to the Mumbai terror attacks last year that killed 164 people. The BJP has also not been immune to controversy because of its fragmented members and criticism for fanning the tensions between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority.