Elections and democracy Essay

August 19, 2017 Cultural


1. Make you believe elections can be a good step of democracy? Discuss this statement in relation to elections late held in African states you are familiar with.

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The twelvemonth 2011 experienced serious degrees of political activities in Africa such as political turbulences. middle-east rebellions and elections in many states. Most Muslim states rose against their long-ruling leaders. hence saw the ousted of Egyptian Hosni Mubarak and the violent death of Muamar Gaddafi after a six-month war between the Gaddafi stalwarts and the anti-Gadhafi combatants assisted by NATO. However. while this was taking topographic point. other states like Zambia. Congo DR. Nigeria. Liberia were besides exerting their duty of holding other leaders non by force but by the ballot.

The states which fought hard to take long-rule-leaders wanted to merely as other states have the freedom to take their leaders in an election. a move considered to be a democratic activity of the citizen. Elections are being considered to the most of import manner of demoing how democratic a state is. However. in world there is certainly more to democracy than merely keeping an election. therefore. this essay will analyze as to whether elections merely are the sufficient step of democracy.


Democracy’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a signifier of authorities in which people have a voice in the exercising of power. typically through elected representatives’ . Democracy is most evidently manifest through elections which enable people to take representatives. However ‘democracy’ is non an absolute class. whereby if a state has an election it can be regarded as ‘democratic’ . Alternatively. a state’s democratic certificates involve measuring many. if non all. facets of administration and the political system. There is much argument over what constitutes democracy both in theory and in actuality. In one authoritative definition. by Robert Dahl. democracy requires ‘not merely free. carnival. and competitory elections. but besides the freedoms that make them genuinely meaningful ( such as freedom of organisation and freedom of look ) . alternate beginnings of information. and establishments to guarantee that authorities policies depend on the ballots and penchants of citizens’ ( Dahl 1971 ) .

Therefore democracy is non merely about bulk regulation. but requires political freedoms so there can be argument and independent determination devising. Normally recognized indispensable constituents of democracy include: multi-party electoral competition. freedom of association. freedom of motion. independent media. and the regulation of jurisprudence. Achieving such freedoms may be a staggered procedure in which there are different forms of democracy. It is widely suggested that democracy enables people to carry through a basic human involvement and demand to take part in civil and political life. The Inter-Parliamentary Union remark in their Declaration on Criteria for Free and just Elections ‘Recognising the right of everyone to take portion in the authorities of his or her state is a important factor in the effectual enjoyment by all of human rights and cardinal freedoms.

Democracy is argued to profit the society as a whole. as duologue enables relevant issues to be addressed and the best solutions to be found based on informed and considered picks. and those in administration are kept responsible and accountable and under a limited authorization. ’ It is argued that democracy increases the opportunities of peace within a province and with other provinces. Democracy is besides thought to cut down the likeliness of political repression and to increase the opportunities of stableness and economic growing.

Amartya Sen points out one dramatic illustration of this indivisibility of civil-political and socio-economic rights in placing that ‘no significant dearth has of all time occurred in any independent democratic state with a comparatively free press’ ( Sen 1999 ) . The American non-governmental organisation. Freedom House. in its 2002 planetary study concluded ‘the GDP of Free states stood at $ 26. 8 trillion. while the GDP of Not Free states was $ 1. 7 trillion’ .


From the apprehension of autonomy and freedoms. the authorities must be erected by the engagement of really free people non under coercion. It implies that the citizens must hold a free will to take leaders of their pick and be able to hold freedom of look within the given model. Thus. elections become a really of import voice for citizens to choose their leaders as that is how they participate in the procedure of doing determinations. However. there is more to democracy than merely keeping elections and electioneering. There are many other factors to see to finish democracy than merely keeping an election Elections today. which signify democracy. must be judged by the conformance to standard norms that constitute free and just elections. A free election is based on the given that cardinal human rights and freedoms are respected.

These would include freedom of assembly. association. look. and information. In add-on. freedom would include freedom from force. bullying and coercion. freedom to entree the polling Stationss by both electors and proctors. and freedom to do picks without fright of reverberations. But in Zambia. prior to elections. there was a batch of bullying by the opinion MMD by brutalizing the resistance. perverting the young persons with beer to do confusion in a manner of candidacy. So there was coecion earlier election as oppositions were non ready to frely do their ain determinations over who to vote for. In another illustration. Congo DR November elections were marred with utmost force prior to and during the election.

The Joseph Kabila’s party had no regard for the peoples rights. hence ferociousness and willfull killing took topographic point and spread to other topographic points particularly were the resistance members were concentrated. In Nigeria. during the 2011 elections there was a serious witnessing of electoral and cultural force where more than 1000 people died. This was attributed to the government’s inability to be crystalline in election processs so much that elections were postponed three times and this gave worse intuition and more force. So it’s clear that even though the elections are being held. but so they are far from demoing any kind of democracy. African News and Current Affairs ( 2011 ) studies that other dissentious elements of this year’s ballot include an initial hold to the polls ; a consequence of the execution of a new elector system.

The polls were really in advancement in several provinces when Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ) chair affirmed the delay necessary to ‘maintain the unity of the elections and retain effectual overall control of the process’ . This move was met with protest and interpreted diversely as ; a gambit to set up consequences. a wide move to barricade such efforts. pure incompetency or a mixture of all three. theories which undermined the transparence of proceedings before they had decently begun. Additionally election are just when all the participant be it in governing or resistance political parties have on a degree terms in order to bring forth the legitimate consequences acceptable to all the characters. This means no bullying. equality in accessing the run resources. media and other comfortss However. the 2011 tripartite election showed how the Zambian authorities could command the “independent ECZ” by easy interrupting the election regulations.

The so governing MMD were really administering gifts to electorates when it was clear that it was against the jurisprudence. Further. the governing party had started runing far before the run period or election day of the month was even announced. ECZ was good cognizant of such malpractices but could non command the “big cat “in the electoral game. In fact how can a organic structure be independent if the Directors and others in ECZ are straight appointed by the president? The independency of the electoral establishments is undermined by a figure of factors. ensuing in multiplicity of contentions in virtually every facet of the elections. such as elector enrollment. polling Stationss. continuance of polls. limit of constituencies. confirmation and proclamation of consequences and entree to the media.

In add-on. during election run. the run land wasn’t degree as the governing party had all the resources to impel a smooth and comfortable run which gave the opinion party a strong upper manus in the game. They could utilize any resources runing from public vehicles. money and power to restrict other parties’ ability to run decently. The governing party could easy purchase anyone to forge desertion and pay up the heads or headsmans in order to belong to the their side. but at the same clip demonizing resistance parties and forestalling them from accessing financess for runs.


Finally. much as elections is central for the hard-on of democracy. but so it is certainly non the sufficient step for democracy. A state can keep the election but so if these elections are non free and just. there is unequal distribution of resources. there is no transparence in all the traffics of the authorities. there is no regard for human rights and freedoms by the constitutional holders and no freedom of look and no free media. democracy can’t prevail in the state.


Banda. F. ( 2003 ) Community Radio Broadcasting in Zambia: A Policy Perspective. Doctoral Dissertation. and University of South Africa ( UNISA )

Barnett. C & A ; Murray. L ( 2004 ) Spaces of democracy: Geographic Positions on Citizenship. Engagement and Representation. London: Sage Publications

Barnett. C. ( 1999 ) The Limits of media democratisation in South Africa: political relations. denationalization and ordinance. London: Sage Publications

Brown. Michael E. ( ed. ) . Debating the Democratic Peace. Boston. MIT Press. 1996.

Dahl. Robert. Polyarchy: Engagement and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1971 ) .

Sen. Amartya. ‘Democracy as a Universal Value’ . Journal of Democracy. vol. 10. no. 3. July 1999.


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