Electoral Process as a Political Problem

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In an election process, such as a referendum, the emphasis is on arguing the election outcome rather than the principles that govern the election process. Individuals, for example, are given the opportunity to express their thoughts in a referendum, but their opinions are impacted through persistent manipulation. Manipulation can take the shape of a sign, commercial, or incentives to affect people's opinions.

During an election, the same problem is witnessed where the aspirant convinces the voters through various methods to vote for him or her instead of voting for what the aspirant stands for. This leads to a situation where the elected official serves his interest instead of the people that he was elected to represent. The aim of the election process is to include the views and decisions of every citizen who is old enough to take part in decision making that affects the general direction of the country. This paper will describe the electoral process and its inefficiency in enhancing democracy. Then it will describe the problems associated with the voting process by giving real-life examples. Lastly, the paper will provide proposed solutions to the electoral process.

In the past when technology was primitive compared to the current sophisticated communication, election of leaders was based on a simple majority vote of an elected official was an effective way to exercise democracy. Communication was limited and slow and the system of exercising one's democratic power of casting a vote once in a few years was sufficient to successfully include the opinions and decisions of a majority of individuals in the country. Technology has improved over the years, and it has affected how people interact with each other. Therefore, the current population is completely different from the past. The principle difference being that the individual of today is well informed, educated and can make and question decisions that do not make logic.

Rousseau's observation on the limitation of elections alone for guaranteeing freedom. During the 18th century, Rousseau observed that liberty is not guaranteed by election alone. In fact, he gives an example of Britain which at that time, its citizens were basking in the glory of their freedom. Rousseau cautions the citizens of England of the deception that has blinded them from the reality that they are not free and that their freedom is short-lived. He says that the English people are only free when they are about to vote for their preferred candidate, and the freedom ends as soon as he is elected (World Economic Forum).

Voting is a process that is the most significant civic duty of any citizen, but the surprising fact is that it ultimately boils down to a quiet space concealed from the rest of the people where one makes his decision. This is one of the unlikely places one would expect to air his or her opinions, views, and decisions. The unfortunate fact is that voting turns a person’s feelings and desires into manipulated thoughts and shared priorities. Western democracies have in the recent past faced a lot of difficulties with some of the countries experiencing turmoil during the elections. The political instability witnessed in western democracies is caused by the refusal to change procedures so as to accommodate the changes in the political arena. There are typical cases of the failure of the electoral process; they include: Belgium was unable to form a new government after the elections while a trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine was cut short after a vote that was conducted in a referendum held by the Dutch (Matt and Nick). Also, Spain has, in the past, held general elections in a span of just six months. All these examples are proof of the inadequacy of the electoral process in enhancing democracy. A process that is referred to as democratic is one which incorporates each person’s views and not the majority.

Examples that demonstrate the limitation of elections in depicting democracy. A typical example that proves that elections do not demonstrate democracy was witnessed in the year 2016. In this year, Britain carried a vote that ultimately led to the country’s exit from the European Union by a simple majority. A significant percentage of Britain citizens were against Brexit, including the then Prime Minister David Cameron. In the end, Britain exited the European Union even though not all citizens supported the exit. Thus, elections are outdated and do not portray a democratic process. Another example is the election in the United States of America where the current president, Donald Trump, won the election. Trump winning the elections may have nothing to do with him or the political system in the United States. The main reason for the outcomes mentioned is the emphasis put on voting rather than the principles of democracy (Reybrouk). In simple terms, democracy has been reduced to the casting of votes and not based on the candidate’s goals and objectives.

It is hard to develop a political solution that will ultimately tackle the problem of elections. But there are methods proposed such as the principle of Athenian democracy. The principle is based on drafting by lot or, in other words, sortition which is a term that is currently in use. Past records show that states such as Florence and Venice have experienced decades of stability due to the application of the Athenian principle. This method utilizes sampling where a section of the population is taken to vote. The random group of people is informed and educated on the subject matter to be voted on. This method is reliable because the voters can make informed decisions which will ultimately be beneficial to the whole population. Therefore, the votes cast on a particular issue are not influenced by either bribes, ignorance, or popularity. A section of the society that is well-versed with the situations and circumstances that face them daily can uniformly make superior decisions than the whole society that is not aware of the current nature of their societal problems (World Economic Forum). The success of Athenian democracy has been seen in countries such as Australia, Netherlands, and the United States.

Democracy has been an important aspect of the political process in the past, but if we do not make drastic changes in the principles that govern a democracy, we may end up breaking the democratic process, which is symbolized through elections. The technology behind public deliberation needs to change with the generation. Elections are an archaic instrument of public deliberation, and newer methods should be developed which are compatible with the current political atmosphere. Democratic countries should embrace the Athenian process which has proved to be effective in ensuring a fair and well-informed decision.

Works Cited

Booth, John A and Mitchell A. Seligson. The Legitimacy Puzzle in Latin America:Democracy and Political Support in Eight Nations. Cambridge: University Press, 2012.

Matt, Henn and Foard Nick. "Young people, political participation and trust in Britain." EPOP ANNUAL CONFERENCE. Nottingham Trent University, 2012.

Reybrouk, V D. "Why elections are bad for democracy." 29 June 2016. .

World Economic Forum. "The Global Risks Report 2016." (2016): 1-103. .

May 02, 2023

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