Politics and the Issue of Spatial Voting and Salience


It’s almost the time for that encore of a cornucopia of class presentations, chanting of party lore and the tactics to inveigle as many voters as possible, all a try to turn the result of that doomsday in their favor. The time leading to elections presents a plethora of articles and write ups about what potential voters feel about the choices they have, how the contesting parties promise a reform every year but somehow return with the same promises in many ensuing years. So, let’s just deviate from that conventional path of election’s writings and look about what can prove epochal from the point of views of the contesting candidates, the not so seldom receivers of the general berate.

Two very important issues that any party or candidate must look upon to know what’s important for voters and the psychology of casting votes are: Spatial Voting and Issue of Salience. This is a part of political jargon and we’ll look forward in the article to better understand the meaning and the importance of these ‘merely two words’ at present.

Let’s start with spatial voting. The term ‘spatial voting’ describes when voters cast their vote in elections based on political issues. Issues include “any questions of public policy which have been or are a matter of controversy and are sources of disagreement between political parties.” According to the theory of issue voting, voters compare the candidates’ respective principles against their own in order to decide for whom to vote. So, it becomes very important for the parties to understand the basic problems and motivators for the voters and rely on what they think as their own prescience. Spatial voting entered the vogue of politics especially with the increase in literacy rate, the fact which makes it more considerable at the college elections level, given that each and every voter is pursuing an undergraduate degree at the minimum.

Let’s take a very basic example, omnipresent in DAV College during this campaigning tenure, though losing the significance once a party comes to power. This is the issue of Wi-Fi in the campus. For my two years in college and my experience from being on the receiving end of that same oratory platitude of promises of a fully Wi-Fi campus, I can say it with certainty that this issue is not as luring for votes as the parties believe it to be. The first reason is that there are more basic problems that does the students than this Wi-Fi issue and secondly, a great lot of thanks to Mr. Mukesh Ambani, for providing the internet at a faster speed than we could have had fathomed for a college Wi-Fi that too at a much cheaper rate than that would have resulted in the form of fee hike, had this promise been implemented. So, whoever is giving this writing some of their limited available time, I request them to please give the issue of spatial voting an important thought, as it holds the same strength in luring the votes as an influential leader holds.

Another equally important issue to give heed to be the Issue of salience in politics. Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘salience’ as “most noticeable or important. As this suggests, salience means those conspicuous issues and matters that are due for some immediate and serious consideration. The role the issue of corruption played in Indian National Elections was the Salience factor. It is that linchpin, which points and targets that major nerve which is easily noticeable and is close to the voters’ heart that is omnipotent enough to change the course of the outcome. Almost all the parties have a good number of agendas in their manifestos, but what can prove to be of cornerstone importance for them is checking out if any of them can do justice to the salient factor or not, and if they think the answer to be an affirmative one, then making sure that it is not so only for them, but more importantly for voters they ultimately are trying to snare. Safety of female students, better access and quality of college library, sanitation level, violence levels, and something as basic as space available for car parking, these are some of the noticeable changes that can lead way to a win-win situation for the voters and the vote-getters.

For exercising the salience issue, going around having a genuine chat with the voters about their requirements, their problems and the changes they want to see is more important than making decisions of their own volitions, and baffling the not so passive audience with the articulation of their choices.

With elections just around the corner and all the political parties and student unions, all prepared to launch their “bring the votes” campaign, being circumspect about these two special political issues can prove to be the lifesaver in this veracious current of politics.

About the Author:

Daksh Manglick (DAV College 10)

Daksh Manglick (DAV College 10)

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. Solace can be found in the smell of those meaningful off-white pages. 
Life is all about food and books. Tennis enthusiast. Federer forever.

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