The long and short of Indonesia and India’s elections

The polls in India and Indonesia show their duration has consequences

A voter posing in a photo booth after casting his ballot during the sixth phase of voting for national elections in New Delhi on Sunday. This year's elections stretch from April 11 to May 19, with the results to be announced on May 23. The multi-phas
An Indonesian woman casting her ballot at a polling centre during the presidential and legislative election in Jakarta on April 17. The official election results will be announced on May 22. The delay has led to speculation about the winner, who by unofficial counts is the incumbent Joko Widodo, and complaints and public protests by the opposition party.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A voter posing in a photo booth after casting his ballot during the sixth phase of voting for national elections in New Delhi on Sunday. This year's elections stretch from April 11 to May 19, with the results to be announced on May 23. The multi-phas
A voter posing in a photo booth after casting his ballot during the sixth phase of voting for national elections in New Delhi on Sunday. This year's elections stretch from April 11 to May 19, with the results to be announced on May 23. The multi-phase election in India comes with considerable costs - the most obvious being that governance takes a back seat during the election period. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

India's Election Commission (EC) has a stellar reputation for impartially running the world's biggest democratic exercise. For this year's general election, it has to oversee a process involving 900 million eligible voters, one million polling booths, over 11 million election officials and 2.3 million electronic voting machines. In addition, around 2,000 political parties were in the election fray.

But on one count, the EC has come under increasing scrutiny: The duration of the elections, which this year stretched to seven phases over six weeks. The polling began on April 11 and ends on May 19, with the results being announced on May 23. The last general election was not much shorter in duration.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'The long and short of elections'. Subscribe