Democracy's Reach

Political Representation and Elections in India

Social Sciences
Project illustration inspired by the Indian flag. Contains a flow of datapoints where some are reaching voters and some are not.

Principal investigators

Francesca R. Jensenius

University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS
Research Area
Political Sciences


Current discussions about democratic erosion across the globe is nowhere more urgent and more consequential than in India, the world’s largest democracy and most populous country. This project starts with the premise that democracy’s reach in India must be seen in light of several long-standing and closely intertwined challenges to electoral representation in the Indian context. This project aims to bring together some of the leading scholars on Indian politics across the world with the goal of exploring three of these challenges: the challenge of electoral representation emerging from a mismatch in voting intentions and election outcomes in parts of the population; the challenge of democratic accountability related to uneven public service delivery and an alternative form of accountability emerging out of electoral hand-outs, clientelism, and favoritism; and the challenge of a weakly institutionalized party system, with an opposition struggling to offer an alternative to the current government. The goal of this project is to shed light on the importance of the three identified challenges by analyzing original datasets that have already been collected by the core team, incubate collaborative ideas, and develop a new research agenda for how to study democracy in India, and ultimately in the developing world.


Francesca Refsum Jensenius, professor at the University of Oslo and one of our Young CAS PIs, embarked on a significant endeavor this month as she conducted her inaugural workshop at CAS. Immersed in the intricacies of democracy in India, Francesca's project, "Democracy's Reach: Political Representation and Elections in India," addresses pressing challenges to democratic governance, aiming to illuminate critical issues and foster collaborative solutions.

It is with great enthusiasm that the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) unveils the two chosen Young CAS Principal Investigators (PIs) for the upcoming two-year term: Professor Francesca Refsum Jensenius from the University of Oslo, who offers a penetrating analysis of the democratic processes in India, and researcher Gaute Linga from The Njord Centre, University of Oslo, focusing on the intricate process of water infiltration in soils.