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Presidential election on 17 July: Here's how process to choose Pranab Mukherjee's successor will work

The Election Commission announced on Wednesday that if elections are required to choose the next President of India, they will take place on 17 July. The nomination process for the same will begin from 14 June, with the issuance of a notification; 28 June is the deadline day for submitting nominations, while candidates have until 1 July to withdraw their names. If there is consensus among parties over the choice of president, there may not be an election.

File image of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

File image of President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

The EC also said that if there is no consensus among the ruling NDA and the Opposition parties, the number of serious candidates in the fray will be clear by the evening of 1 July. Counting of votes will take place in New Delhi on 20 July.

Incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee's term will end on 24 July.

NDTV reported that BJP and its allies are positioned to have their pick after Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured the support of regional parties like TRS, which makes up for the shortfall in votes that the ruling coalition needed.

The names being considered include Cabinet ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu.

The report further added that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been negotiating with other opposition parties to decide on a joint candidate.

The process

The post of president is a constitutional one, and the presidential election is governed by articles 54-59 of the Constitution.

Article 54 lays down that the president will be elected by an electoral college. This is made up of the elected members from both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of all states. Therefore, all members of the central and state legislatures are part of the electoral college except the following: Nominated members of Parliament, nominated members of the Legislative Assemblies, and members of the Legislative Council.

Article 58 of the Constitution puts in place certain qualifications on who can become President of India. In order to be eligible to become president, one must:

  • Be a citizen of India
  • Be over 35 years of age
  • Be qualified to be a member of the Lok Sabha
  • Must not hold an office of profit

The election itself is held by the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. There are two things to understand in this:

- Firstly, proportional representation: The value of votes of different members of the electoral college will also vary. For an MLA, it is dependent on the population of their state and the number of elected members in the state's Legislative Assembly. The value is fixed for each state, and varies from Uttar Pradesh (208) to Goa (8) as per a report in The Financial Express. For an MP, it depends on the total value of the votes of all MLAs and the number of elected MPs. Currently the value is fixed at 708.

This year, a total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs — are eligible to cast their ballot.

- Secondly, the system incorporates preferential voting. This means that the electors don't just choose the best candidate but also indicate their preference regarding the others. Thus, even if an elector's first preference does not win, the rest of their ballot influences the election.

This is done by the system of vote quota. In order to win, the candidate must obtain a certain number of votes, which is determined by the total number of valid votes cast. Thus, for the 2017 presidential election, the winning candidate must obtain (4,896/2)+1 — 2,449 votes. In case no candidate reaches this number, the one with the minimum number of votes will be eliminated.

But preferential voting ensures that another vote is not required. The votes received by the eliminated candidate are distributed to the others on the basis of the voter's second preference. The process continues till one of the candidates achieves the required number.

Finally, the election is held by a secret ballot in which no one knows who has voted for whom. This also means that parties cannot issue whips to their members and electors are free to vote for whoever they want.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jun 09, 2017 16:54 PM

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