Which political party to vote for/support/join

If you have any doubts on which political party to join (as a member) or simply vote for, fear not, for there is now a mathematical formula to help you. It’s rather simply, and is given by A. B . Yes, that is it. Notice the dot – however. This is essentially the inner (dot) product of two vectors. So what are the variables here, and how do you construct it?

First of all list out all the “axes” that you think are politically important – anything that you think is relevant for a political party. These axes can include (but are not limited to) “capitalist-communist”, “secular-communal”, “internationalist-regionalist” and so on. Now that you have defined these axes (there is no limit on the number of axes you can define), describe your political position in terms of a vector in the N-dimensional space.

Let’s say that you have defined two axes – economically conservative-liberal and socially conservative-liberal. If you are extremely conservative economically and extremely liberal socially, your political persuasion can be described as say (-5,5). If you are economically centrist and socially conservative, you might be at (0,-5), and so forth (choice of the number 5 above is arbitrary).

Now, take every political party that is in your shortlist (or longlist, if you have that much patience), and define the vector of that particular party. Now, the magnitude of the party vector along each axis should reflect the ability of the party to execute along that axis – for example, if you think a party is socially liberal but is unable to execute on the socially liberal axis (either because of lack of conviction or because the party has minuscule chance of forming the government) you should ascribe to the party a small positive value along this axis. If another party is likely to have regressive views on the social liberal axis, and is very likely to achieve them (good chance of winning combined with conviction to get these policies done), it will have a large negative score along this axis. Once again, absolute numbers don’t matter – your axes may stretch from -10 to 10 or -1000 to 1000, as long as all parties have been graded using the same scale.

So now, for each party, you have an N-dimensional vector which reflects its overall ability to execute. You have your own N-dimensional vector, which represents the combination of policies that you want to push.

All you need to do now is to take the inner product of your vector with each party’s vector. You should vote for / support / join the party with whom the inner product has the maximum value.

The mistake a lot of people do is that they ignore magnitudes, especially that of the party vector, and instead choose the party whose vector forms the smallest angle with their own vector (inner product can also be written as |A| |B| cos theta where |A| and |B| are the magnitudes of the vectors and theta is the angle between them. The mistake people do is to optimize cos theta even if the magnitude of the party vector is small.). This leads to them spending much valuable energy supporting unviable parties (either ones that have a low chance of winning or those that lack conviction to execute on just about anything).

Quite simple, right?


Booth level coordinators for AAP

In today’s Economic Times, I was reading this article on the attempts by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to establish roots in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The article mentioned about the party already recruiting booth level coordinators in those two states and thus starting to prepare for the forthcoming elections.

The question, however, is why someone would want to be a booth coordinator for AAP. Before we examine that, let us examine why someone would want to be a booth coordinator for a party – some might see it as a stepping stone – having coordinated a booth, one might find a way into the higher echelons of the party, and might result in an MLA ticket the next time round.

However, in most cases this is rather unrealistic. Given the number of booth coordinators required in each assembly constituency, the promise of at most one of them being elevated to MLA is not enough to motivate them to work. The party needs to find a different way of compensating them.

Cadre based parties do this by paying their members a salary, and booth coordinators are thus paid to do their work. The salary may not be immense, but most cadre-based parties are ideologically driven and it is possible to find party workers who are willing to work as booth coordinators for the given fee.

Less ideological (and perhaps more practical minded) parties use a different method to motivate their booth coordinators – they are promised sweet deals and government contracts in return for their services. Given the size of the government and the discretion of the elected representatives, it is possible to suitably compensate each booth coordinator. For example, the guy who coordinated my booth for the sitting MLA’s party in the last elections also got the contract to desilt and cover the storm water drains on my road!

Coming back, how do you think the AAP will find booth coordinators? While it may be a strongly ideological party, it is still young and is unlikely to have the resources to find enough motivated people to man booths in quantities required to run a national election. Hence the nominally paid cadre route is ruled out. Then, the very ideology of the AAP means that the party is against corruption, and working out sweet deals for its booth coordinators will go against the party ideology, so that is ruled out!

So, the question remains – how will the AAP manage to find the requisite number of booth coordinators?