What is the Importance of Elections in Democracy?

Elections are of utmost importance in any Democratic country. As we all know, democracy is defined as a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Such governments, as in the ancient city states of Greece, can be formed with the people directly participating in them. But in countries like India, China, the U.S.A., in the U.S.S.R. or in any modern state with several million people, cannot have direct democracy.

It is not only because too many cooks are sure to spoil the broth, but it is simply not possible for any government to function with all these people clamoring to be head. This is why at regular intervals the representative governments are elected on the basis of adult franchise.

In India, which is the largest democracy in the world in terms of vastness and population, governments both at the center and in the constituent states are elected for five-year terms. The electorate of so many crores of people in this sub-continent participate in the election, held on the basis of universal adult franchise, and send their representatives to both the Parliament and the state legislatures, expecting that these representatives will safeguard their interests and work to attain the goal of progress, prosperity, unity and integrity of India as also to ensure rights and freedom of the people. In this indirect democracy the elections play the most important role in shaping the destiny of the people, and the people, while exercising their franchise, constitute the real source of power in the elections as they make their choice and elect only those in whom they have faith.

Elections are important because the people participate in elections to choose their representatives. They should have the necessary education and wisdom to elect only the right kind of people. As it happens in many democracies, including India, the impostors and swindlers take advantage of the poverty and ignorance of the people and contest elections to cash in on the gullibility of them.

The poor villagers in India who constitute the majority of the electorate are often found quite apathetic towards he sophisticated election process and they do not have the education to distinguish one from the other. Hence, the representatives, once elected, work only for self-aggrandizement and are contented only to enjoy the fruits of power for five years, doing nothing for the poor electors. When they are back again at the hustling they cajole and coax the voters with new sets of promises, or simply buy their votes with enormous money-power at their disposal. The voters, in the process, lose all their interest in the elections and they either abstain from voting or cast their votes only as a matter of ritual. Such elections are not in the finest traditions of democracy, nor does the power of such democracies emanate from the people. The people cannot always help participating in these elections, but their votes do not quite represent their choice. So the elected governments, instead of conforming to the democratic norms and values, are often found to become authoritarian and autocratic, developing a sort of cynical disregard for people’s aspirations.

Hence, it is imperative to educate the significance of voting rights among masses to ensure conscious participation of the people in the election, reserving the right to recall. For else the elections are bound to have an insignificant role in the changed scenario. And this conscious participation cannot but remain a far cry, if the majority of the electorate is left languishing in the morass of poverty, ignorance and superstitions.

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