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Delhi is the testing ground for a new political party and a set of campaign issues with a new visibility.
Delhi is only one of the five states that are electing a new assembly and government, but it stands apart for significant departures from politics as usual. This election will test the substance of a new force, the Aam Aadmi Party, which, despite lacking a seasoned organisation, has expertly created a buzz about its presence. It will be read for how much the AAP's projected focus on transparency and grassroots governance, or the particular solutions and alternatives it offers, resonates with the electorate, and the efficacy of an electoral strategy that grew out of a pitch directed primarily at the middle classes.
After the volatility and churn of the 1990s, the format of political competition has largely stabilised over the last decade or so — both at the Centre and in the states. The major contenders are now established, and constituencies mostly carved up, and small swings in vote share determine outcomes. The AAP makes its electoral debut in such a scenario and the results will reveal whether and to what extent an outsider can unsettle expectations and routines, and make room for itself.
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