Elections in a Democracy

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Elections certainly are a necessary element in a functioning democracy. Elections charachetristcally exist to provide the governed with voice and choice so as to whom they are governed by. Elections although essential are not the only prerequisite to democracy. A successful democracy should have a strong constitution that advocates protection of civil liberties and prescribes a separation of powers. In a democracy elections are vital but a constitution is first and foremost the greater necessity. It is the constitution that protects the citizen’s right to vote in the first place. The constitution is designed to govern the government. In this essay, I will discuss the importance of elections and their different functions and the different purposes they serve in both democratic and non-democratic regimes. I will also discuss the prominence of having a reputable constitution and how it also is used in democratic and non- democratic regimes. I will use the USA and China as case studies throughout the essay to illustrate the indispensable existence of elections and constitutions that are essential for both types of government. Elections

Elections are voting systems that predominantly democratic systems employ. Elections are vital for the performance of democracy as they provide the government with legitimacy, citizens with representation, competition and an involvement of citizens in politics. Elections however are not limited to only democracy but also play an important role in authoritarian regimes including China. Legitimacy

Elections are essential to a democracy in that elections are able to provide the leading party with legitimacy to govern over the citizens as compared to opposing parties. There is a general requirement for leading governments it seems to possess at least some validity and authenticity from the world stage as well as the domestic sphere. Legitimacy endows the governing party with public acceptance as being the lawful successors to office. In China, elections are just as important. China’s one party elections have meant the CCP’s continuous rule over China. But the party’s tremendous accomplishments rationalise the charade because “… the CCP is leading China to a better and brighter future” (Brown 2011, p.28). Representation and Involvement of citizens

“An election campaign… permits a dialogue between society and state”. (Hague& Harrop 2012, p.179). Representation is indeed essential because it not only involves citizens in politics but ensures or at least endeavours to ensure that even minorities receive some acknowledgment in the politics of the nation. The objective is that fair elections will appoint a government that will reflect and represent the views of the majority and that the minorities will also have some representation in the policy making. However, this desired objective may at times not be so real. The USA for example has had declining voter turnout since the 1970s (Hague & Harrop 2010, p.193). If people are not coming out to vote how then, can it be definite that all peoples are being represented? In the US, the existence of the Electoral College procedure means that American presidents are not elected directly by a national vote (Hague & Harrop 2012, p.193) and so not completely representing the will of the people. That is why the involvement of citizens in a democracy is important. The ‘opportunity for personal political expression has been in some way or another made the people feel good’ (Polsby 2011, p.9) Competitive Elections

“… the greater the number of offices subject to competitive elections, the more democratic a political system becomes” (Hague & Harrop 2010, p.179). Competitive elections generate the adrenalin rush that pumps through the veins of democracy. “Competitive elections aid in making the political system open and representative to a great variety of people and groups in the population” (Polsby 2011, p.242). Competitive elections are just as...
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