Tamil Nadu 2016

Multi-cornered fight, vote share gap may turn a double-whammy for DMK

According to political analysts, DMDK’s decision to go it alone was clearly a setback for the DMK in a scenario where the options for the neutral voter are growing. File photo  

The DMDK’s decision to go it alone in the Assembly elections has established one thing. Tamil Nadu could witness a six-cornered contest in 2016 (provided the PWF or the BJP fail to join a DMDK-led alliance), an unprecedented development in recent times.

Therefore, in a political landscape where two major Dravidian parties have dominated the electoral scene in the last 50 years, the logical question that emerges is this: Who will reap the benefit of such a multi-cornered contest?

Total seats contested



Party 2006 2011
AIADMK 182 160
DMK 130 119


The current situation is unique in the sense that six smaller outfits, which have been traditional allies by alternating between the AIADMK and the DMK, have chosen to stay clear and fight their own battle this time.

Data from the last two Assembly elections in 2006 and 2011 could present some crucial pointers and help in assessing the situation. When the votes polled by the AIADMK and the DMK are excluded, the cumulative share of other smaller parties (DMDK, MDMK, VCK, PMK, CPI, CPI (M), BJP and Congress) add up to 39.1 per cent and 36.3 per cent respectively in the two years.

The Congress could be removed from the list since it has now committed to go with the DMK. This means, the vote share of seven other smaller parties stood at a substantial 30.4 per cent and 27 per cent in 2006 and 2011.

Two important aspects have to be noted while interpreting this data. First, these parties were part of larger alliances. This means whatever they polled would have had a substantial chunk from the base of DMK and the AIADMK. Next, the DMK contested far fewer seats than the AIADMK in both the elections. Hence, some of the parties which aligned with the DMK had the benefit of contesting more seats and improving their numbers.

The DMK-AIADMK vote share difference

For the DMK, the current scenario is tricky given the gap between its vote share and that of the AIADMK. In 2006 and 2011, this difference was 6.1 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in favour of the AIADMK, though DMK leaders have claimed in the past that had the party contested as many seats as the AIADMK did (in 2006, it contested 52 lesser and 41 seats lesser in 2011), it could have narrowed the gap.

Given the fact that six of the erstwhile allies (BJP contested both 2011 and 2006 alone) have refused to align with it, the DMK may have to depend heavily on anti-incumbency to erode the AIADMK’s vote share and on the tendency of Tamil Nadu voters to alternate between the two parties.

Vote Share %



Party 2006 2011
AIADMK 32.6 38.4
DMK 26.5 22.4


Psephologist Venkatesh Athreya says the DMDK’s decision to go it alone was clearly a setback for the DMK in a scenario where the options for the neutral voter are growing.

However, Mr. Athreya says ascertaining the strength of the smaller parties with the vote they polled in an alliance (2006 and 2011) may not present an objective picture as they would have benefitted from the “interactive effect” that came with a pact with the major two.

“But if the DMDK chooses to go with the PWF, the alliance will certainly be in a position to attract more neutral voters. This could further dent the DMK. More than anti-incumbency swings, it is the political arrangements that have decided elections in Tamil Nadu,” he feels.

Number of seats allies contested



Party 2006 2011
AIADMK 52 74
DMK 104 115


R. Manivannan, Professor of Political Science at the University of Madras, states that empirical evidence suggests that the dice is loaded in favour of the AIADMK given its position as the largest party in the State. “The DMK has only Congress, which too is weakened by a vertical split, to bridge the gap it has with the AIADMK. This is certainly an uphill task,” he says.

He adds that given the concentration of vote base of some of the smaller parties in particular geographical areas—PMK and VCK in the North—a much wider vote swing would be necessary for any party to notch up a majority.

As far as the parties other than the major two go, these experts feel upsets were all that they could hope for given that the committed vote bank of the DMK and the AIADMK could hardly be expected to shift votes in any significant manner.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 2:49:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamilnadu2016/multicornered-fight-vote-share-gap-may-turn-a-doublewhammy-for-dmk/article8346017.ece

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