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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Designing Political Representation - A study of the variation in context and consequences of political quotas in India

Awarded: NOK 2.1 mill.

Political quotas, redistricting and getting-out-the-vote campaigns are some of the strategies implemented to increase the political representation of underrepresented groups. Such reforms are usually based on the explicit or implicit expectation that incr eased political representation will translate into social change. This project is an empirical enquiry into how well such reforms achieve their intended effects, as well as into their unintended consequences. The multifaceted electoral system in India off ers a unique opportunity to address this issue. Not only have political quotas been in place since before independence, but there is also great variation in their size, the proportion of the target group in reserved districts, and what group is being targ eted. At the state and national level, districts are reserved for Scheduled Castes (untouchables) and Scheduled Tribes (tribal groups), meaning that only a person belonging to these groups can run for election. Using a combination of large-N statistical d ata analysis, survey work and interviews, this project seeks to address the following questions: Under what conditions do quotas improve the socio-economic status of target groups? How do quotas alter the self-perception of the individuals within the targ et -group and the perception of this group in the rest of the population? Do politicians serve the interests of their own community when they have no electoral incentives to do so? I hypothesize that change in the status of the target group (measured by s ocio-economic and attitudinal variables), following the implementation of political quotas in reserved districts, is correlated with the demographic proportion of the target group within the reserved district. Looking at the both socio-economic and attitu dinal factors, I hope to add new insight about the consequences of political quotas in the Indian case, and also to be able to draw lessons about the design of representational institutions beyond the Indian case.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam