Winners and losers: Kerala elections

In the past three and a half decades of alliance politics in Kerala, where elections were split evenly between United Democratic Front and Left Democratic Front, 82 political parties have tried their luck at winning the people’s mandate. Of this 82, only 32 parties were able to win a seat in the 140 member state assembly in the past seven elections since 1982.

Interestingly the party that has contested most number of seats in Kerala in last seven elections has not won even a single seat. That distinction goes to Bharatiya Janata Party which has contested a whopping 850 seats in past 35 years and lost every single one of them.

Indian Union Muslim League with it’s stranglehold on Malappuram district is the winningest party in electoral politics. Both Communist Parties have a winning percentage higher than 50%. Congress and CPM are neck and neck, but Congress is trending lower in winnability since the UDF sweep in 2001. Muslim league has a 68% winning ratio overall across seven elections, but more remarkable is the fact that IUML won 83% of the seats it contested in 2011, up from 33% win ratio in 2006 when CPM shook some of League’s forts and turned League badlands red. Kerala Congress Mani has won 50 of the 88 seats they contested.

Winning parties Kerala elections


BJP has the worst return on investment by far, and their performance could arguably be the worst performance by any party anywhere in the country.  2016 is BJP’s biggest bet so far. BSP tried their hand in Kerala during Mayawati’s expansive days, but came up a cropper.

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Bonus: A quick glance at Kerala’s big parties and the number of seats they contest makes it clear the state is moving towards a four player system  – CPM, INC, CPI and IUML. As it is becoming more evident, any party other than these four do not have the scale to win across the state and in the next few elections will be asking more existential questions. Below is a table of contested seats for top five parties in Kerala.

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Bellwether of Kerala Elections

Ever wondered which constituencies reflect the mood of the state. Ollur in Thrissur has predicted every election since 1982, sending MLAs to Trivandrum who were always part of the ruling alliance. Only constituency to do so. Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam lead the way as truly bellwether districts, Thiruvananthapuram  because of it’s high political awareness and Kottayam because of it’s flexible Kerala Congress parties which usually switch alliances to stay in power.

We have looked at bellwether status from two fronts – ability to pick the correct winner in each of the 7 elections and ability to ride the 4 waves that occurred in the past 35 odd years of electoral politics. Around 13 constituencies have rode the wave and picked the winner with 90% or higher accuracy. 30 places have a 80% or higher accuracy of siding with the winner and riding a wave when they see one. Below chart shows constituencies and their United Front vs Left Front leaning.


Best Predictors of State
Constituency UF/LF %
Ollur 4-3 100%
Aranmula 5-2 93%
Kaduthuruthy 3-4 93%
Kanjirappally 5-2 93%
Kayamkulam 3-4 93%
Kodungallur 5-2 93%
Kollam 3-4 93%
Kottayam 3-4 93%
Kundara 3-4 93%
Muvattupuzha 5-2 93%
Peravoor 5-2 93%
Piravom 5-2 93%
Poonjar 3-4 93%
Aluva 6-1 86%
Kattakkada 4-3 86%
Koduvally 6-1 86%
Kozhikode North 2-5 86%
Manalur 6-1 86%
Pathanapuram 4-3 86%
Chathannur 3-4 80%
Chirayinkeezhu 3-4 80%
Kalpetta 5-2 80%
Kazhakoottam 5-2 80%
Kozhikode South 3-4 80%
Kunnathunad 5-2 80%
Palakkad 5-2 80%
Parassala 4-2 80%
Sulthanbathery 5-2 80%
Thiruvananthapuram 5-2 80%
Thodupuzha 5-2 80%


Districts data show no surprises, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam decide which party comes to power, with unique ability to swing and sway based on the mood of the state, housing one 3rd of the places that have predicted winning alliance with a 90% accuracy. Malabar continues to try and make sense of what’s going on in rest of the state, without much success though.

Bellwether Districts
Const.           District
Chirayinkeezhu TVPM
Kazhakoottam TVPM
Parassala TVPM
Thiru..Puram TVPM
Kaduthuruthy KOTTAYAM
Kanjirappally KOTTAYAM
Kundara KOLLAM
Chathannur KOLLAM
Muvattupuzha ERANAKULAM
Kunnathunad ERANAKULAM
Kalpetta WAYANAD
Sulthanbathery WAYANAD
Kodungallur THRISSUR
Kozhikode South KOZHIKODE
Peravoor KANNUR
Thodupuzha IDUKKI
Kayamkulam ALAPPUZHA


And so who’s not so good at picking the right alliance. The not so bellwether brethren of Kerala assembly constituencies.

Not so Bellwether
Const.            District
Ottappalam PALAKKAD
Udumbanchola IDUKKI


The importance of being Ollur

Ollur is the Vigo county of recent elections to Kerala assembly. Ollur in Thrissur district has predicted the man in Cliff House 100% of the time. The only constituency in the state to do this. Ollur has chosen UDF in 4 elections and LDF in 3, and so did Kerala, and exactly in that order.

Winners in Ollur since 1982:
percentage margin of victory
1982 44 49
1987 48 46 4
1991 45 50 4
1996 47 43 5
2001 45 53
2006 50 44 5
2011 44 49 5