The Irrelevance of Political Populism

  • Srinivasan Sunderasan


In their quest to gain the favor of the electorate, politicians in general and Indian politicians in particular are known to roll out populist measures such as loan waivers, interest rate concessions, and provision of free electricity for agriculturists immediately prior to polls. With a view to establishing the relationship between the power to administer, control and micromanage prices, and the consequent electoral outcomes, this chapter studies the evolution in the retail prices of diesel and petrol (gasoline) administered by the Indian federal (central) government. It is observed that the transfer of changes in the prices of petroleum distillates to other commodities of common consumption takes approximately 42 weeks. The study, covering a total of 44 elections for the central and state (provincial) governments during the period 2000–2007, concludes that even as patterns of price manipulation immediately prior to elections and immediately thereafter are apparent, the leverage available to manipulate prices does not seem to translate into favorable electoral outcomes. This conclusion reiterates observations that economic performance does not necessarily determine electoral outcomes in India, and possibly other jurisdictions, and that the basis for electoral choices made by the Indian voter-consumers remains unclear.


Foreign Direct Investment Retail Price Fuel Price Retail Prex Political Formation 
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© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Verdurous Solutions Private LimitedMysoreIndia

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