ROLE OF FREEM AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN A DEMOCRACY
Author: Rohit Srivastava, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
“The government of the people , by the people , for the people , shall not perish from the earth.”
In this article that is “ role of free and fair elections in a democracy and its challenges”, I have mentioned all the dimensions revolving around the topic. First of all I have done a brief discussion on what is democracy , how it is originated and how it is better than any other form of government and then I have discussed about the history of election and how the idea of election has reached world wide consensus. The given topic required exhaustive research and observation skills in order to give the appropriate conclusion at the end of the article.We can see the history of any country and can find how it has strived to get the form of government which is of the people , by the people and for the people. It is important to note the importance of election in a democracy and how the participation of people plays a significant role for making it successful. It is often said that democracy is not the best form of government but the better form of government compared to all the existing form of government that is monarchy, dictatorship etc. As there is fight to grasp power and share power in a democracy, times come when people tend to lead themselves in a corruptive way. As lord John Dalberg Acton has said, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, it is necessary to keep the eye on the exercise of power holding and power sharing through various mechanism like check and balance method in order to make most of the democracy.
WHAT IS DEMOCRACY ?
There is no exact meaning of democracy. The term expands its meaning according to place , time and circumstances. For general sense the word ‘democracy’ has been derived from two greek words that is “demos” which means people and kratos or cracy which means power or rule . Hence , the word democracy means rule by people. According to Cambridge dictionary , democracy is the belief in freedom and equality between people , or system of government based on this belief , in which power is either held by elected representative or directly by the people themselves. Therefore , democracy is a form of government in which the real power is vested in the hands of people and power is exercised by them or by their elected representative under a free electoral system. At first, democracy originated in greek in the period of 5th century BC in the city of Athens. Later after travelling through seas it became prominent in other parts of the world. In earlier times, autocracy and oligarchies were only present in which power was kept in the hands of few who generally exploited the people and did not let other to take the hold of it. But in democracy there are generally large number of people contesting to come into power to do the functions of government. This often leads to the system of majoritarianisnm in which rule of people who are large in number began to suppress the demands of the one who are lesser in number. But most of the time, countries where constitution is there for the protection of rights the demands of minority are also taken into consideration. Meanwhile constitution acts as weapon or tool which takes the minority into account and guards there rights. Democracy is not only representation of people in a large number to give freedom of choice but also it is a form of government in which the aspects of liberty and equality are seen and protected. By establishing democracy a country can expect to form a government which could be stable for many years as the period of term of power specifies. This system of government ensures that the power is not kept in a hand of few for long period of time as lord Acton has said absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the preamble of the constitution of India there is a mentioning of “We the people…” which means that the sovereignty lies in the hand of people and people are responsible for the working of government. It is the people who are responsible to hold accountable the one who is not working properly in a democracy. There are many forms of democracy such as direct democracy, representative democracy , constitutional democracy and monitory democracy. The history of a country decides the form of democracy which it choses. Many philosopher and thinkers have given their idea of democracy where their principles could be followed. An ideal democracy is the one in which rule of law prevails and there is an atmosphere of freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to represent, right to elect and right to be elected in which each vote has equal value. Democracy as a form of government has a huge scope and it has various reason to be better than other forms of government. Now I would like to discuss further about the one of the most important component of democracy that is election.
The word election has come from a latin word “eligere” which means to pick out. In general sense election is a mechanism through which the members who stand to be elected in order to come into power are elected. Election are not used only for governmental purpose but for selecting leaders in various campanies and corporations. Elections acts as a major tool in forming the government in any modern democracy. In Vedic period of India, the Raja(chiefs) of a gana (a tribal organization ) was apparaently elected by the gana. The Raja always belonged to the Kshatriya varna (warrior class) and was typically a son of the pervious Raja. However, the gana members had the final say in his election. We can see that the idea of election is very archaic and it has come into lot of modification these days. Suffrage plays a very important role in every election. It is important to decide who gets to vote and what should be the value of it. In earlier times women were not allowed to vote in many countries but after waging a long battle, the right to vote was first given to women in the country of Netherlands. In 19th century the idea of universal adult suffrage surfaced according to which the right to vote is given to all citizens regardless of wealth, income, gender , social status, race , ethnicity, political stance or any other restriction subject only to relatively minor exception. It is important to look at the trends and check whether the practice of election is taking place with the correct measures or not. Now I am going to discuss the importance of elections in a democracy and its challenges.
IMPORTANCE OF ELECTION IN A DEMOCRACY AND ITS CHALLENGES
Election plays the one of the most important system through which every democracy survives. It is way through which people gets the chance to chose their leader who will later form the government. In India election takes place in every five years. It gives the opportunity to people to select the one who they wish to be guided by. It gives people an opportunity to change its leader whenever the leader seems to go on corruptive way. Democracy is the form of government which is of the people , by the people and for the people and election forms the base through which the people get the chance to reflect themselves. Democracy without election is like a tiger without a tooth. It is no less better than autocracy or oligarchy in which power lies in the hand of few. No democracy can stand without free and fair election and there are large number of ways through which the election can get tampered. The one in power always wants to remain in power so for that he uses many viles and mean method to win the election. It is often seen that the rich candidates with criminal connections use any means to remove the other people who wants to stand in election. Moreover , it is mindset of the people which influence the way the one elects the people to form the government. People tend to ignore the good factors in the individual who can lead them on the path of development instead give the votes according to one’s caste or creed. In recent times, cases have come in which the ways through which election took place that is through electronic voting machines seems to be hijacked. There is need to check the malpractices done in the election to make the democracy a powerful form of government.
Through the above discussion we can see that democracy is a best form of government among the other form of government. And election plays the one of the major role for the flourishing of democracy. It is important to take note of all the malpractices happening at the time of election so that free and fair election can take place. The election commission which is responsible for the conduction of the election should be sanctioned with more power. Moreover, a mechanism should be developed through which election commission does not get into the dirt of politics. At the end I would like to say that the people hold the most power in a democracy and it is the people who should always ask the question to the one who is in power so that proper balance of check and balance could be maintained and the ideals of democracy can grow.
1) Eric W. Robinson ,The First Democracies: Early Popular Government Outside Athens.. Page no,. 22–23
4) "Universal suffrage definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com.
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/democracy https://www.moadoph.gov.au/democracy/defining-democracy/# Eric W. Robinson ,The First Democracies: Early Popular Government Outside Athens.. Page no,. 22–23  "Universal suffrage definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com.