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Corruption Concerns All Generations of Indian Voters

Corruption Concerns All Generations of Indian Voters

This is the second article in a series on issues affecting voters in the world's largest democracy as they head to the polls.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Political parties vying for seats in India's national election are hoping to lure voters with promises of tackling the country's graft, which the majority of Indians see as a widespread problem that they don't think their current government is doing enough to combat.

Corruption in India

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has made fighting corruption one of its main platforms, recently releasing a 52-page manifesto that says the party promises to maintain "good governance" -- a commitment no doubt intended to strike a sharp contrast with the scandal-plagued governing Congress party. Such statements likely resonate with Indian voters, including the estimated 150 million young people who will be casting a ballot for the first time. Three-fourths of Indian adults aged 18 to 34 said in 2013 that corruption is widespread in their government, nearly identical to the percentages of similarly minded adults aged 35 to 54 (76%) and 55 or older (72%). Anti-corruption was also a strong focus of the new Common Man Party that performed well in the December Delhi elections.

Voters in the North may be somewhat more receptive to anti-corruption messages than those in the South. Nearly nine in 10 Indians living in the North believe corruption is widespread in their government, compared with 65% in the electorally important South. However, as recently as 2012, 82% in the South saw government corruption as pervasive, suggesting the issue is likely not far from their minds.

A slim majority of Indians (51%) do not believe the current government is doing enough to fight corruption, which could cost the governing Congress party some votes. This includes 54% of 18- to 34-year-olds, who have the potential to be a potent political force because of their numbers.

Indian Government's Efforts to Fight Corruption

Regionally, the East gives the Congress party-led government the most credit for fighting corruption; 50% say the government is doing enough to fight corruption, while 26% say it is not. In the North, 80% say the government is not doing enough. These differences could reflect the efforts of local governments in fighting corruption and may not necessarily represent views of the national government, even though the survey question wording specifies "the government of your country."

Younger Indians Less Trusting in Election Process

If the rest of the election proceeds relatively cleanly, it may build young Indian voters' confidence in the entire electoral process. Young Indians are currently divided in their perceptions of the honesty of elections, with 46% saying they are confident in the process and 43% saying they are not. Older Indians are more likely to say they are confident in the honesty of elections than not.

Confidence in the Honesty of Elections, by Age

Confidence in the honesty of elections also varies by region, with the North leading the country in terms of electoral pessimism. Less than a fifth of residents in the North say the electoral system is honest, while majorities in the South (52%), West (64%), East (63%) and central part of India (67%) are more confident. These data were collected prior to the Common Man Party's late December 2013 victory in Delhi, which led to that new party's brief but unexpected rule over the capital city. However, these data help show just how restless the northern part of the country was prior to the election.

Bottom Line

India's election has many moving parts, all of which could lead to considerable change at the national level. Most Indians believe corruption is commonplace in government, and a significant percentage believe the current government has not done enough to combat this scourge. Meanwhile, a hefty portion of the electorate is young and, in many cases, voting for the first time, bringing many new identities and fresh concerns to the electorate. Amid all of this, economic growth is subpar. How all of these influences play against each other in determining the results of the ongoing election remains to be seen.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted September-October 2013 in India. Before 2013, results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 2,000 to 5,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted 2008-2012 in India.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2.2 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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