Elections

ELECTIONS.

Alternatives are what elections are all about. The
word election is derived from the Latin verb legere, meaning choose.If
there is to be a real choice, there must be alternatives. If public officials
are being chosen, there must be at least two candidates. If an issue is being
decided, voters must be free to say yes or no.

 

 

There are two kinds of countries in the world: those
made up of people who create governments to run their public affairs, and those
in which government runs the affairs of the people without their consent. Both
types usually have elections, and both claim that elected officials represent
the people.

The difference between the two types of elections is
the presence or lack of alternatives. In constitutional democracies such as
Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, the United States,
and the countries of Western Europe there are two or more political parties,
each of which runs slates of candidates for office. The people are allowed to
vote for those who they believe will do the best job.

In other nations that call
themselves republics or democracies such as China, North and South Korea, and
Cuba opposition parties are either outlawed or severely limited. In the Soviet
Union until 1989 there was only one candidate for each office on the ballot. An
election could not therefore be a choice among alternatives. It could only be a
seal of approval on choices already made by the government. Those who were
elected in this process did not represent the people in the government; they
represented the government to the people.

 

That every citizen of a nation should be allowed to
vote for public officials is a fairly modern idea. It dates from the 18th century,
when such writers as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson
voiced the idea of civil rights for all citizens. The events of the American
and French revolutions enabled this idea to be put into practice. (See also
Constitution; Democracy.)

Originally, from the ancient world until the early
modern period, what was represented in government were certain wealthy and
powerful vested interests. These included landowners, nobles, corporations, and
churches. The common people did not count for much in the councils of
government. They had no voice in selecting the people who would rule over them,
and their interests carried little weight. They simply did the work and
supplied the military manpower.

During the 19th century the suffrage, or right to
vote, was gradually extended. It was first extended to the working classes of
Europe and the United States but to males only. Women won the right to vote in
many states of the United States but not in presidential elections until 1920.
At about the same time they won the vote in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany,
Poland, and Canada. Not until 1928 did women get the right to vote in Great
Britain. In France, Italy, Japan, and some other countries this did not happen
until after World War II. In the Arab nations women’s right to vote is still
restricted by law. Communist countries generally have universal suffrage for
all adults.

In some countries the United States and Britain voting
rights have been extended to 18-year-olds. It was decided that since so many of
them serve in the armed forces and receive higher education, their role in the
social order cannot be denied. ( also Suffrage; Women’s Rights.)

 

 

Elections may be categorized in several ways. They
include what is being voted for, the level of government at which the voting
takes place, and whether the election is held to select candidates or to elect
public officials.

 

Officeholders and issues. When a
voter enters the voting booth, the names of individuals seeking public office are
found on the ballot. There may also be a number of public issues to vote for or
against: local tax increases for schools are among the most common. (For
coverage of issue-oriented elections, see Initiative, Referendum, and Recall.)

With regard to officeholders, elections give them the
right to make public policy decisions. Voters, therefore, want to know what the
candidates think about public issues. Every society is made up of people with a
great diversity of interests farmers, bankers, blue-collar workers, teachers,
lawyers, corporation managers, small businessmen, to name a few and each of
these groups forms what is called a constituency. Every candidate running for
public office must appeal to the constituencies within his district, state,
province, or nation.

An individual seeking to be president of the United
States, for example, must appeal to all of the interests within the country or
at least to a good many of them in order to win an election. The prime minister
of Great Britain and the chancellor of Germany, however, are elected to their
respective legislatures from local constituencies and after election are chosen
to head the government if their parties win. Therefore it is the party program
that must appeal to the majority of the electorate, or voting public ( Cabinet
Government).

�� In many
countries the various interests and constituencies are represented by political
parties. In the United States there are only two major parties, the Democratic
and Republican; but in most countries there are several parties competing for
the allegiance of the voters. Political parties provide the pools of talent
from which candidates are drawn. Those who belong to a party believe that its
candidates can best serve the public interest, if elected. Once elected, of
course, an officeholder feels many pressures, some of which may result in
broken campaign promises ( Political Parties; Lobbying).

 

Levels of election. In every large
democratic nation, elections take place at a variety of levels: local, state,
and national. A local election may be a citywide affair, or it may only include
part of a city. A special aldermanic election, for instance, takes place only
within one ward, or election district, of a city. In some countries there may
be an election in one province or state without the rest of the country being
affected.

 

TvSomalilandEurope Web Master

Mohamed Idan

 

Dub ulaabo

 

 

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