Pandemic triggers fears of low turnout

Even as COVID-19 appears to be subsiding, concerns of a further spread have triggered a fear factor among the electorate in the State. This could lead to a low voter turnout, theoretically.

A high disease burden will be a worrying sign for all coalitions, especially the Congress-led United Democratic Front as many believe that the traditional voters of the coalition are lethargic and may stay away from booths. But this postulation has in many ways proved wrong in the past elections. As for the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front, its leaders are not unsure about a dent in its vote base in the current situation.

Roughly 15% of the voters are above 60 years of age and even if 5% of them fail to exercise their franchise, it will hugely impact all parties either way. At the same time, parties have been sucked into intense and interminable factional feuds as well.

Youth power

However, one emerging factor is the probable voting pattern of the young and fresh voters. Electoral statistics showed that new voters found favour with the Left parties in the post-Emergency period. Nevertheless the political flavour has changed with the BJP emerging as a major player in the politics of the State.

Now the biggest challenge for poll mangers is to devise a strategy to attract the new voters.

It remains to be seen how the leadership of the coalitions play their cards. Of course, the candidate profile will get an advantage.

With 21,905 seats up for grabs in grama panchayats, block panchayats, district panchayats, municipalities and Corporations, almost all fronts have put up new and young faces.

Like in sports, in politics too, only the winners matter. Thus political parties have stepped up their campaign to prevent a low voter turnout. The voter turnout in the previous local body polls are — 1995 ( 73.5 % ); 2000 (66.1 %); 2005 (70.3 %); 2010 (76.3 %) ; 2015 ( 77.7 %).

Election officials have already started making preparations to mitigate the COVID-19 fears among the electorate.

The pandemic had forced them to postpone the elections which will now be held in three phases beginning December 8. The first phase will cover Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki districts. The elections will be held in Kottayam, Erankulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad on December 10 and the final phase will cover Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts on December 14.

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