Elections | Meaning, Functions, Demerits, Types, Direct & Indirect Election

Meaning of Elections: Elections, fundamentally, entail the process of selecting candidates for various government offices. These candidates act as representatives of the people in parliamentary and governmental positions. Elections involve a competition between political parties or groups, vying for political power through the mandate of the electorate expressed via the ballot.   Functions/Advantages of Elections: […]

Meaning of Elections:

Elections, fundamentally, entail the process of selecting candidates for various government offices. These candidates act as representatives of the people in parliamentary and governmental positions. Elections involve a competition between political parties or groups, vying for political power through the mandate of the electorate expressed via the ballot.

 

Functions/Advantages of Elections:

Elections serve several key functions:

  1. Choosing Representatives: Citizens use elections to select individuals who will represent their interests in the government.
  2. Smooth Government Transition: Elections facilitate the orderly and smooth transition of power within a government.
  3. Legitimacy: The outcomes of elections confer legitimacy on the government by representing the will of the people.
  4. Government Responsiveness: The possibility of being voted out encourages governments to be responsive to the needs of the people.
  5. Public Education: Political parties utilize elections as a platform to educate the public on national issues.
  6. Testing Popularity: Elections provide a means to gauge the popularity of the government or specific political figures.
  7. Social Integration: Elections contribute to the integration of diverse societies.
  8. Socialization: They play a role in socializing the population.

 

Demerits of Elections:

However, elections have their downsides:

  1. Polarization: Elections can lead to the polarization of a country into antagonistic groups.
  2. Disunity: The division caused by elections may result in disunity within a country.
  3. Costly Process: Conducting elections can be financially burdensome.
  4. Minority Disfavor: Minority groups may not receive fair representation during elections.
  5. Uneven Development: Neglect of areas that did not support the ruling party can lead to uneven development.
  6. Nepotism and Division: Elections can foster nepotism, divisionism, and ethnocentrism.
  7. Deceptive Politicians: Some politicians may deceive the public with false manifestoes and manipulative language.

 

Types of Election:

  1. Direct Election:

The electorate directly casts votes to choose representatives.

 

Advantages:

  1. Freedom for voters without interference.
  2. Essential for representative government.
  3. Guarantees political equality (one man, one vote).
  4. Elected representatives usually reflect popular choice.

 

   Demerits:

  1. Lack of political education may lead to unintelligent voting.
  2. Potential for hatred and embarrassment.
  3. Increased violence during polling.
  4. Susceptibility to rigging due to its finality.
  5. Potential for corruption, particularly in impoverished societies.

 

  1. Indirect Election:

Election into the legislature occurs in multiple stages through an Electoral College.

 

   Merits:

  1. Competence of electors in selecting legislature members.
  2. Lower violence compared to direct elections.
  3. Elected candidates are often more qualified.
  4. Less expensive and less prone to rigging.
  5. Enhances the quality of legislation and administration.

 

Demerits:

  1. The Electoral College can be influenced or bribed.
  2. Some interests may be underrepresented.
  3. Lack of familiarity between the electorate and representatives.
  4. Policies may not align with public choices.
  5. Less democratic and lacking in equality of votes.

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