Political Sciences

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According to Heywood’s views (2007:74) “What gives voting its democratic character, however, is that, provided that the election is competitive, it empowers the public to “kick the rascals out”, and it thus makes politicians publicly accountable.” It can therefore be deduced that one of the key ideals of a democratic society is that of fair, free, and competitive elections in which the people elect their representatives in government. “Democracy without citizen deliberation and participation is ultimately an empty and meaningless concept” (Pimbert & Wakeford, 2010). Based on the above mentioned view of democracy within society, this essay will seek to explain Heywood’s argument that a vital aspect of a successful Democracy is the accountability of the politicians to the people through competitive elections (Heywood, 2007:72). This will be done by defining democracy (Heywood, 2007:72-74) and then closely examining Heywood’s view by referring to different aspects within a society which can be seen to make the elections competitive (media, political parties and party systems) (Heywood, 2007:75-80). Definition of Democracy: Direct and Representative Democracy Democracy stems from the words demos and kratos, roughly translated as people power or rule (Du Pisani, 2010:03) which would suggest that the very core of the term and thus the foundation to this form of government is the ideal of the people ruling the people and being involved in the political decision making process, whether it be by direct or representative means (Heywood, 2007:72). The concept of direct democracy (participatory democracy), was demonstrated in Athens by means of a government in the form of a mass meeting of citizens where the people played an unmediated and direct role in government and decision making, therefore removing any distinction between government and civil society (Heywood, 2007: 74). This can be argued to be the only true form of democracy (Heywood, 2007:74). Heywood states that direct democracy allows for the people to be actively involved in the running of their nation which ultimately allows for public expression of views and interests and ensures legitimacy as people are more likely to accept the rules that they have made themselves (Heywood, 2007:74). One could conclude that the people of a direct democracy would therefore be accountable to themselves and would be directly at fault if something was to go wrong (Heywood, 2007:74). In contrast one can examine representative democracy which Heywood states (2007:74) to be indirect and limited because it restricts the participation of the citizens to the act of voting every few years. One could say that this is the most practical form of democracy as direct democracy can only be seen to be successful in smaller communities. Thus the representation of the people by means of elected officials within government may be the most effective way of public participation as it allows the burden of decision making to be placed on government who ideally would be run by educated and knowledgeable individuals whereby relieving the stress of ordinary citizens by distancing them from politics and encouraging them to accept compromise (Heywood, 2007:74). In this instance, the people would look to elect individuals to advocate for them on a political level, and therefore would have someone to hold accountable and a means in which to challenge the governments decisions if the people felt it was not what they had originally intended or asked for (Heywood, 2007:72). The people felt that they should be protected and therefore democracy came to stand for a system of government by consent, which operated through a representative council on behalf of the people (Du Pisani, 2010:08). It can be concluded that in both views, popular participation is encouraged in order to formulate a set of rules and regulations on which the law is based (Heywood, 2007:75). Heywood’s argument

Heywood’s argument is that only through...
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