The President

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Introduction

The Union Executive of India consists of the President, the Vice-President, and the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as the head to aid and advise the President.

The President of India is the head of the state and also the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces. All executive decisions made by the Prime Minister and the government are taken in the name of the President.

While many of our presidents have been illustrious achievers with an independent outlook, a number of them have also risen from the political echelons of the country. As the President, however, they have risen above their political inclinations and chosen to function in the best interests of the nation.

Election of the President

The President cannot be elected by the people of the state themselves. If the case was such, the President could claim direct power of the people since they voted for him.

In 1848, Louis Napolean, who was elected as head of state by a direct vote of the people, overthrew the French republic and claimed he was the Emperor since he had been directly elected. Keeping this incident in mind, the President of India is elected indirectly.

The President of India is elected by an electoral college. This college comprises the elected representatives of the government that form the government after being elected in the state assembly and national elections. The citizens of the country directly elect these representatives. It is these elected representatives who then vote for the President, in theory representing the people who would ideally vote for the President.

Nominated members of state assemblies and the two Houses are not allowed to participate in the presidential election as they have been nominated by the President herself. Issuing whips to garner votes for a particular candidate is also prohibited.

However, a lengthy calculation designates the value of votes of every elected MLA and MP. For the MLA, the number is decided by the total population of the state divided by the number of elected members to the legislative assembly, further divided by 1000. The population data is taken from the 1971 census. This census will be used until 2026.

The value of the vote of an MP is decided by dividing the total value of votes of all MLAs of the whole country, divided by the total number of elected MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The total value of the state vote is calculated by multiplying the value of vote of one MLA with the total number of elected MLAs.

Unlike a traditional ballot, where the voter casts one vote only for her selected candidate, a presidential election ballot does not follow this system. What it follows is the Single Transferable Vote system.

According to this, each voter marks out her preference for the presidential candidate. If there are five candidates for example, the voter will give five preferences. It is mandatory to give a first preference as the vote will be declared invalid in its absence. However, if the voter doesn’t give other preferences, the vote will be considered valid.

Vote Quota

The vote quota has come about as a result of Proportional Representation which ensures equal representation to all groups. Simply casting votes or indicating preference is not enough as the person with the most number of votes or first preference does not win the presidential election.

The total number of valid votes decides how many votes will a candidate need in order to be declared winner. This number is divided by two and added to one to form the benchmark of winning.

For example, if there are 50,000 valid votes, then the candidate would require (50,000/2)+1, which is equal to 25,001 votes.

Should any candidate fail to reach the vote quota, the candidate with the minimum number of votes is eliminated and her votes are transferred to the other candidates on the basis of the second preference.

If the vote quota is achieved, a winner emerges but if it doesn’t, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated again and others get her votes on the basis of the third preference.

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