Election Special From India, World's Largest Democracy! (By Population, Not Girth)
Did you know elections and vote-counting happen in places other than Minnesota? It's true! Take, for example, India, where the monthlong (!) election just came to an end, and the results are coming inat this moment. Approximately a gigabyte of the country's 700 million eligible voters went to the polls, which all used electronic voting machines, and the potential debacle seems to have gone off without any disasters, civil wars, coups, terrorism, piracy, PUMAs, or any discussion of gay marriage whatsoever. So, score one for Democracy! UPDATE: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia & Rahul Gandhi's Congress Party win big!
Whoa wait what is going on here? Wonkette commenter Jagorev asked if we'd do something on the crazy Indian elections, and we were all, why don't you write about the crazy Indian elections if you love them so much, and he said okay, and here it is!
To make any sense of these exciting elections, you must know "The Players." Then, you can understand snide articles in The Economist and be prepared for witty/knowledgeable cocktail chatter when, say, India and Pakistan have a nuclear war in space.
The Third Front: The Western media will call them "left wing" and ominously throw in the fact that there are "communists" involved, and there are, but mostly they're a shaky coalition of small, rural, regional parties that represent India's poor and historically disenfranchised. They are led by the hilariously corrupt Mayawati -- who also happens to look exactly like a female Rod Blagojevich.
The BJP: Every country needs a party for the dumb nationalists and religious bigots. The BJP fulfills this role in India. While the BJP wasn't so bad the last time they were in power, this time their leading figure is LK Advani, who is most well known for leading the demolition of a Muslim mosque, sparking riots nationwide that led to 2,000 deaths. So depressing! But apparently he's mellowed a bit since then. And he has a blog!
However, Advani's pretty old, and if the BJP wins Advani might just keep the seat warm until he is replaced by the sprightly young Narendra Modi -- only 59 years old and the real star of the Indian right-wing (they define "young" differently in India). Businessmen love him, and the Muslim minority cowers in fear of him. Think of the efficiency and economic policy of Mitt Romney combined with the social charm and tolerance of Jesse Helms. In short: mini-Hitler.
Finally, there's the Congress party, which represents the "sane," "liberal," "middle-class," "pussy" wing of Indian politics. If they win, the current Prime Minister -- Manmohan Singh, the economist whose policies made India's economy work again after decades of no growth -- might continue for a bit longer. But Singh is 77 years old, and he would definitely be a placeholder for the half-breed Italian Catholic Rahul Gandhi, the young, charming, well-educated, unaccomplished scion of the Gandhi family. He is India's Caroline Kennedy, and will probably be Prime Minister eventually for that reason.
There are some other players. One likely compromise pick is Nitish Kumar, who has been pretty good at running the state of Bihar -- a big, horrendous, chaotic place that holds a crapload of electoral votes. Think of it as India's Florida, except that no one goes to Bihar voluntarily.
Follow election updates from the BBC here -- looks like the Congress is doing pretty well so far and the Communists are getting clobbered, which might just end the beautiful dream of a Mayawati governmen.
-- Wonkette's Internet Indian Correspondent