History

What Democracy Is and What It Is Not

What democracy is and is not Is democracy friend or foe and how important is it to the ordinary individual living under the poverty datum line Do theso called democratic processes actually hear the voice of the individual or is it masked in the voice of the masses In their article of the same title as this document, Schmitter P.C and Karl L.T make a note that the citizen is the most distinctive element of democracy (1991, p 97). If this remains a focus then the human element that mars the perfect ideal of democracy cannot be forgotten. History has proven that often the right of the citizen to place a candidate(s) of his or her own choice can be removed from them by overt means or can be clouded and cloaked under red tape.
The Zimbabwe issue is centre stage at the moment and is a clear example of how democracy can be exploited and manipulated to suit a select few. As a requirement for making democracy possible, competition was available against those who held centre stage in the political arena for more than a decade. The race was carried out and there was no majority consensus of more than fifty percent of the electorate. Less than 90 days later the same electorate returns to power a person they had initially rejected, even narrowly Is it safe then to say that within the ensuring time between polls a massive change of heart had come over the nation’s electorate and can it be a majority decision when less than fifty percent of the eligible voters turned out the second time round (p97). To use the nation in transit democracy scoring system (2006), I would give the nation a score of 6.00 to 7.00!
Suffice to say that the authors may have listed the conditions that make democracy possible which can be substantiated by several texts but they failed to move me from the position where I believe that as long as we are human with individualistic personalities with the need to put self first, a complete democracy will remain a utopia.
Why does a country require free and frequent elections
For political equality, then every citizen must have the right to freely vote and each vote must be counted equal (pg 94). Further more, these elections must be held frequently and not too far between. Long periods may be too long to undo bad governance while short periods may be insufficient for any constructive results to be felt. Without this then the right to free expression and freedom of choice to the voter is stifled. This is fundamentally what the author advocates and unfortunately is not what is actually on the ground. If one is to oppose this view then it is necessary to point out that frequency is a mater of choice and there are several other factors that also need to be taken into consideration.
There is poor understanding of the economic and institutional landscape that is most favorable to the extension of political liberties and free elections in nations undergoing transitional democracy (Boix C, 2006). Those in power at the time may chose to redress national issues in a way that may alter the social and economic fabric of the country and as such the holding of free elections may hamper in their agendas. A power struggle then ensues in the opposing parties concerned with voters caught in the middle. Above this, giving the power of choice to all then brings in the uncertainty of how long a representative will last maybe even for a period less than desirable to the elected official. National wealth is a temptation that dew can resist getting a little for themselves. Democracy then can only be achieved when one side is willing to lose for the greater good of the nation.
In low income nations many of whom are undergoing transitional democracy. often the cost of frequent elections may place a great strain on the national budget. It may be expedient to defer the electoral process until the nation can better afford it.
Works Cited
C., Boix. (2006, march). Policy Review, The Roots of Democracy. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from Hoover Institute: www.hoover.cor/publication/policyreview/2913481.html
Freedomhouse. (2006). Democracy Score. Retrieved July 03, 2008, from www.freedomhouse.hu/nitransit/2006/democracyscoresexplanation.pdf

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