An election is a decision making process by which people choose leaders. Elections are the most important ingredient of democracy, and have been said to be the factor that either breaks or builds the democracy of a state. This essay shall discuss the effectiveness of elections as a measure of democracy citing examples from recently held election in African countries. A conclusion shall be drawn at the end. DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS
The term, democracy comes from the Greek word, dēmokratía "rule of the people", which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) "people" and Kratos "power". Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as ‘The rule of the people, by the people’. The relationship of democracy and elections is visible in the definition of democracy given by MacIver which is that democracy is not a way of governing whether by majority or otherwise but primarily a way of determining who shall govern by involving freedom of choice in electing the rulers and the consent of the electors that those who receive the mandate should alone rule. This implies that democracy has popular base and hinges on the consent of the governed. This is further illustrated by Patterson who described democracy as a system of government where ultimate political power rests with the majority through their capacity to choose representatives in free and fair elections. The implication is that democracy cannot be divorced from elections and elections therefore serve as a significant measure of democracy. This assertion is in line with Shumpeter who defined democracy by insisting on the election as a way of placing the government in a bidding process. Elections, which are an important element of democracy, must be judged by the conformity to standard norms that constitute free and fair elections. A free election is based on the presumption that fundamental human rights and freedoms are respected. These would include freedom of assembly, association, expression, and information. In addition, freedom would include freedom from violence, intimidation and coercion, freedom to access the polling stations by both voters and monitors, and freedom to make choices without fear of repercussions
ELECTION AS A MEASURE OF DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA
Elections offer citizens a periodic opportunity to change the policy makers. Citizens will have a control because they will be able, at least occasionally, to reject elected officials who are doing the wrong thing. Competitive elections create a pressure on all incumbents to worry about the next elections and make policy with voter review in mind. There is one thing that the citizens do have to know: who was responsible for policy making. Citizens anticipates a decisive election whose results will directly determine the policy makers. In turn, if voters feel they have an ability to reward or punish elected officials in elections, this may shape their positive attitudes toward elections as a measure of Democracy. However, this is not the case in Africa as elections are usually marred by corruption, consistencies, violence and threats, as was the case in the 2010 Ivory Coast elections. On 2nd December 2010, Youssouf Bakayoko, head of the Ivorian Commission Electorale Indépendante (CEI), announced provisional results showing that Alassane Ouattara had won the Ivorian election of 2010 in the second round with 54.1% of the vote, against 45.9% for Laurent Gbagbo; he reported that turnout was 81.09%. Results had been expected and then postponed for days, beyond the deadline, and Bakayoko's appearance to announce the results at an Abidjan hotel heavily guarded by the UN took the press by surprise. Bakayoko reportedly chose to announce the results at the hotel, which Ouattara had been using as "his base", because he wanted to have the security of UN protection when doing so. According to the 2003 Peace Accords signed in the suburbs of Paris, the majority of the CEI must consist of politicians of the opposition (Democratic Party...
Bibliography: Ball. A.R. (1988). Modern Politics and Government, London: Macmillan.
Barkan, J. D. 1998. Rethinking the Applicability of Proportional Representation for Africa. In T. D. Sisk & A. Reynolds (Eds.), Elections and Conflict Management in Africa(pp. 57-70). Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Collier. P. (2009). Wars, Guns & Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, London: The Brodley Head.
Hetherington, Marc J. 1998. “The Political Relevance of Political Trust.” The American
Patterson T.F. (2003).The American Democracy, New York: McGraw-Hill
Shugart, M. S., & Wattenberg, M. P.,eds. 2000. Mixed-Member Electoral Systems: The Best of Both Worlds?New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Schumpeter J. A. (1965).Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Paris: Payot.
van de Walle, Nicolar. 2003. “Presidentialism and Clientelism in Africa’s Emerging Party Systems.” Journal of Modern African Studies41: 297-321.
The Post Newspaper, September 15, 2013.
Kenya Financial Times, December 31, 2007
Pambazuka News, September 13, 2010
Please join StudyMode to read the full document