India after the 2014 general elections: BJP dominance and the crisis of the third party system

Arjan H. Schakel*, Chanchal Kumar Sharma, Wilfried Swenden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article critically assesses claims that India has entered a new party system after the 2014 general elections, marked by renationalisation with the BJP as the new ‘dominant’ party.’ To assess these claims, we examine the electoral rise of the BJP in the build-up to and since the 2014 general elections until the state assembly elections in December 2018. We illustrate and explain the rise of the BJP in the Hindi-heartland and in areas beyond its traditional catchment area. We show that this rise is territorially uneven and has come primarily at the expense of Congress’ and regional party support, but not of regionalist parties which consolidated or even expanded their vote share. Overall, we argue that despite the emerging dominance of the BJP, a core feature of the third party system—a system of binodal interactions—has remained largely intact albeit in a somewhat weaker form. Furthermore, by comparing the post 2014 Indian party system with key features of first three party systems, we conclude that the rise of the BJP has thrown the third-party system into crisis, but does not yet define the consolidation of a new party system. We use electoral outcomes, measures of party nationalization (Bochsler 2010) and party system congruence (Schakel 2013) to make this claim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-354
Number of pages26
JournalRegional & Federal Studies
Issue number3
Early online date14 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • India
  • party system
  • nationalization
  • BJP
  • congress party


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