How to win an election ?

Elections are round the corner.Parties and individuals are gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections.The result of which will mar or enhance political careers of many aspirants.In a democracy it is the will of the people which is supreme and that will is expressed by the people through elections.To fight an election is not easy.Politics is a full time job.Elections are the litmus paper tests for survival in politics.As It is so important,politicians use all tricks and methods first to get ticket from a political party specially from the party likely to win and then jump in to elections.Politicians use sam dam dand bhed to win the elections.For them it is a question of life and death.Although there are some general guideline but there is no set formula to win an election.Among the rising election temper I happened to get hold of an interesting book on fighting elections.“ HOW TO WIN AN ELECTION An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians” by Quintus Tullius Cicero.

The book is written in the form of a long letter full of advice given by a younger brother to his older brother who was fighting his first major election in Roman republic in 64 BC.The book is now available with an editorial note highlighting its importance in today’s world.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the greatest orator ancient Rome ever produced.In the summer of 64 BC he was running for consul,the highest office in the Roman Republic.He was intelligent and a great orator but unfortunately was not of noble birth. The ancient Roman society was divided into classes and the ruling class consisting of wealthy nobles were not convinced that a man like Marcus Cicero who was of an ordinary origin was fit to govern the republic.But Cicero was determined to prove the elites wrong. Marcus’s younger brother Quintus was a practical man and wanted to help his idealistic older brother Marcus to succeed in the election.When the elections were declared and campaigning started,he wrote a letter to Marcus giving practical advise about electioneering.The letter survived the centuries and is now available in the form of a small text called in Latin the Commentariolum Petitionis. The advice given in the text is as relevant today as it was in those times.It is full of Machiavellian ideas about winning an election by manipulating the electorate.It is a text which is an essential reading for those who want power through elections.Quintus knew that Marcus has the ability to swing electorate in his favour by the power of his speech.But that is not enough for winning elections.Electionering is an art and one has to learn to master it.Many advices given by Quintus in the text are already been used by politicians all over the world to win elections in democracies.Out of many advises the editor of the text has picked up ten important ones. These are :

  1. Make sure you have the backing of your family and friends. Loyalty begins at home. If your spouse and children aren’t behind you, not only will you have a hard time winning but it will look bad to voters. And as Quintus warns his brother,the most destructive rumors about a candidate begin among those closest to him.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people.That means your associates should have full faith in you and trustworthy.They should be enthusiastic as if they are fighting the elections.
  3. Call in all favors. It’s time to gently (or not so gently) remind everyone you have ever helped that they owe you.And make others believe that if they help him in winning they will be rewarded.
  4. Build a wide base of support.Along with appeal to traditional power brokers,cultivate new groups of people who were not traditionally tapped for political purposes.
  5. Promise everything to everybody.Except in the most extreme cases, candidates should say whatever the particular crowd of the day wants to hear.
  6. Communication skills are key.
  7. Don’t leave town.Remains connected with the electorate
  8. Know the weaknesses of your opponents -and exploit them. Use rumor against your opponents.Rumor of corruption and sexual scandals of the opponents are most helpful.
  9. Flatter voters shamelessly.Make voters believe that they matter to you.
  10. Give people hope.Even the most cynical voters want to believe in someone. Give the people a sense that you can make their world better and they will become your most devoted followers—at least until after the election, when you will inevitably let them down. But by then it won’t matter because you will have already won.

Do these commandments ring the bell.We are aware that many of these advises are already in practice in Indian elections.With the rise of awareness among the electorate politicians are also becoming clever and more manipulative.Gone are the days when leaders were available all the time to its electorate and the leaders did not have to work extra at the time of elections.Now a days most of the leaders are available only during election time and then they vanish.I wonder if we have saner methods to win an election when the electorate are swayed by rhetorics and false promises.

Although there are no historical evidences available to suggest that Marcus acted on the advice of his brother but we can assume that he did act upon the advice as Marcus Cicero won the race for consul, gaining more votes than any other candidate.But in 43BC Marcus and his brother were executed with the end of the republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

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