Election Studies: Shibboleth and Nostrum
IQBAL NARAIN, K C PANDE, M L SHARMA AND HANSA RAJPAL, ELECTION STUDIES IN INDIA: AN EVALUATION, Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1978, pp 181 + VI, Rs 40.
IN the 1940s, the political scientists of the West, being afraid of the communist ideological advance on the one hand and the rise of fascism and Nazism on the other, moved away from the constitutional-legal studies to the study of political behaviour of citizens. Under the changing circumstances the traditional legal institutional political science with its premises that there is an inherent goodness and rationality in human nature, that the political institutions and personalities actually act according to the prescribed rules of the constitution, and therefore, there is the permanency of democratic institutions, proved untenable. The empiricist school of behavioural persuasion won the battle. Along with other reasons, its major urge to keep "communism at ^bay" swayed the American political science which espoused behaviouralism as its new found faith. Since then a plethora of election studies has appeared in Western Europe and the United States of America.
This new faith followed a functionalist theoretical framework. It assumed that politics in a democracy is a bargaining activity, political authority is decentralized and diffused, and thus the government remains a neutral agency. The elections are considered as mechanisms to distribute and redistribute political power, and, therefore, electoral politics is supposed to be the central mode of expression of political differences in a democracy.
Like other Indian social sciences, political science too came under the American influence in the mid-fifties. Election and voting behaviour studies were launched in collaboration with American scholars, who were primarily interested in understanding