How is government formed after results are out?

The Lok Sabha Elections 2019 counting is underway. Early leads suggest that the NDA will form the government at the Centre. The total number of seats in the Lok Sabha is 545. Elections are contested in 543 of these constituencies meaning that the ‘magic number’ to get a majority is 272. So how is a government formed once the results are announced?

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If there is a single majority or a pre-poll alliance

If a single party or an alliance of parties formed before the polls get a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha, they can stake a claim to form the government. The president invites the leader of the single largest party or the majority alliance to form the government. The current BJP government was the first one in a considerably long time when a single party was able to obtain an absolute majority. 

Post-poll alliances

If the numbers don't show an absolute majority, political parties can form coalitions with other parties to push the total beyond 272. Post-poll alliances have become popular at the national as well as state level since 1977 when the Indian National Congress lost for the first time in independent India. 

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If the parliament is hung

If no political party or alliance manages to receive an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, it is known as a hung parliament. In such a scenario, it is not possible for any party to form a government without support from other political parties. The president invites the leader of the single largest party to form the government and usually gives the leader and the party 10 days to show an absolute majority. If the party is unable to show majority in the prescribed time period, the president dissolves the parliament and calls for a re-election. 

External support to form government

If a party or an alliance doesn’t have an absolute majority, it can get external support from a political party to form the government. The party offering external support isn’t usually part of the government and the politicians don’t hold ministerial positions. Governments formed using external support tend to be fragile and vulnerable as there is no commitment from the party that's offering external support. 

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Minority government

A minority government is one where the government doesn’t have absolute majority and so, can’t pass laws without the votes of parties not participating in the government. There have been instances in the past wherein the minority government survived a vote of no-confidence because the MPs abstained from voting for the government and hence, saved the government from a defeat. Minority governments don't usually complete their full terms in office.

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