CSDS-Lokniti 2024 pre-poll survey | Perception of corruption

More than half of the respondents of the pre-poll survey said corruption had increased in the past five years; a majority of respondents held both the Union and State governments responsible for corruption

April 11, 2024 05:24 am | Updated 11:04 am IST

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In the run-up to elections, political parties make allegations of corruption against their rivals in order to reach out to voters and influence voting patterns. While the opposition camp leaves no stone unturned to corner the party or alliance in power by highlighting various acts of corruption allegedly done under its rule, the latter sends out strong signals of its seriousness in curbing corruption by taking a series of actions, including getting leaders of the rival camp arrested.

Also Read: Lokniti CSDS 2024 Lok Sabha elections: a package

However, what do voters think of corruption? Has the perceived level of corruption increased or decreased in the past five years? How widespread is the perception of corruption across spatial contexts and the social spectrum?

As per the pre-poll survey, more than half of the respondents (55%) are of the view that corruption has increased in the past five years. Interestingly, compared with the CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey of 2019, this number has gone up by around 15 percentage points. This is indeed a significant increase.

In contrast, the proportion of respondents saying that corruption has decreased shows a significant decline. It appears to have reduced to half (from 37% in 2019 to 19% in 2024).

Interestingly, responses on corruption are evenly distributed across multiple spatialities — village, town and city. For most respondents — whether they live in a village, a town, or a city — corruption has increased in the past five years. Those saying corruption has decreased are fewer (less than a fifth of respondents) across spatial contexts.

Though divided by economic circumstances, respondents across economic locations seem to be on the same page on the state of corruption. Among both rich and poor, nearly six in 10 respondents held that corruption has increased in the past five years.

Even as the fraction of those saying that corruption has decreased is quite small, there is a systematic class pattern. It increases as we move up the class ladder. Among the rich respondents, the fraction of those saying corruption has declined is higher than that among poor respondents, by seven percentage points.

Asked who they think is responsible for the increase in corruption, a majority of respondents (56%) held both the Union and State governments responsible.

When differentiated between the Union and State governments, more respondents, however, appear to hold the Union government responsible for increasing corruption.

In sum, the perception that corruption has increased in the past five years is fairly high among voters, no matter where and what economic situations they live in. At the same time, it is also true that rarely does a single issue disproportionately influence political preference and electoral outcomes. It thus remains to be seen to what extent the issue of corruption will shape patterns of voting.

Sanjeer Alam is Associate Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

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