Do people tend to base election votes more on emotion or reason?
Right to vote is an inalienable birth right of a citizen of a country, provided that he duly fulfills other conditions prescribed for it. In India age qualification alone has been fixed as the criteria entitling a person to have the right to vote irrespective of his economic status, caste, sex, creed and religion etc. For example an Indian who has completed the age of 18 is entitled to vote in the general elections or in a by-election held once in five years to elect either a member of a Lok Sabha or an Assembly of a state or a member of local body.
Though the Indian constitution does not discriminate between the citizens as far as the right to vote is concerned, still the citizens have many discriminating features among them.The characteristics of the Indian voters vary and they suffer from many inequalities with regard to their educational, social and economic features, which play a vital role in molding their character and act as a deterrent in exercising their right to vote in a free and fair manner.
Besides age plays a dominant role on a voter. Youngsters in the age group of 18 to 30, pumped up by fresh blood, are always motivated by reason, dynamism, craving for a change and progressive ideas etc. Whereas, voters, who have crossed their age of 40s and in their post 50s and 60s remain conservative, failing to understand the exuberance of the youth and their power of reasoning. Whereas majority of the voters in their post 60s,70s and 80s are hampered by old age and senility and mostly have no independent thinking power or decision making capacity and therefore they are always swayed by emotions than by reasoning. Again their poor or failing eyesight or their failing memory make them depend upon others for decision making and therefore the power of reasoning eludes them while they exercise their voting power.
Social factors like caste, creed and community play a predominant role in countries like India. Political parties always use caste or creed as a ploy to woo the voters during an election. A political party allots a seat to a candidate mostly on the basis of his caste and on the basis of the predominant caste votes that prevail in a constituency. In the result people who belong to a particular caste always vote in favor of a person who belongs to their caste, sometimes even crossing over party affiliation. Hence in order to avoid such cross voting, all contesting political parties always choose a candidate who belong to the voters of a majority caste. In the result reason becomes the ultimate casualty.
Another vital factor that plays a predominant role during elections that sways a voter is his poverty. Unscrupulous politicians thoroughly exploit their poverty, by bribing them in order to purchase their votes. In the result a voter becomes a seller of his votes, thereby mercilessly killing the power of reason or care a fig for it.
Certain other factors like the death of a sitting MLA or MP in a constituency create a sympathy wave among the voters, irrespective of their social and economic conditions. Voters are swayed by emotions rather than by reason and prefer to vote in favor of a party whose MP or MLA died. That is why political parties in India always prefer to allot the seat of a constituency whose sitting MLA or MP died, in favor of a family member of a deceased MLA or MP. History is also replete with examples how voters have been swayed by emotions or by a sympathy wave rather than by reason.
When Mrs.Indira Gandhi was shot dead in the year 1984, her son Rajive Gandhi came to power with a two-third majority riding on a sympathy wave. Recently, in Pakistan when former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mrs. Bhutto was shot dead, her political party PPP emerged as the single largest party to capture power in coalition with Nawaz Sheriffs political party.
All the above mentioned aspects clearly prove that a voter is influenced by a number of extraneous factors that sway his emotions rather his reason in exercising his vote. Therefore, I reiterate that in a democracy during elections a voter is more swayed by emotion rather than by reason.