Problems associated with democracy
In my previous blog with the title “liberals versus conservatives” I explained the government and its responsibility to society and also how liberals and democrats believe the state should function in society. The blog was able to create public discourse on social media and that was the point of the article. To be consistent with sustaining the public discourse I will unpack on the problems that are associated with democracy.
Government exercises authority over people to create a society that is organised in a way that the elected officials envisage. There is a political struggle between different parties to lead in government as elected officials. The struggle varies in different countries and can either be armed or peaceful. The struggle is won by one party that represents an ideological view of a particular class, tribe, group or individuals and once inaugurated to lead in government the winning party has a responsibility to meet the expectations of its electorate. Let’s say party X won with 55% and party Y lost with 45% the social and economic policies of party X will be imposed on party Y. It is this factor of democracy that leads to social unrest and violent strikes because party Y resists the imposition of laws that they disagree with and do so by striking. Democracy is a chef of social unrest because every protest has an element of a political motive force. Another factor is that the voter turnout of eligible voters is very low in many countries. For example in 1994 85.53% of the eligible voters in South Africa voted, the figure has dropped to 59.34% in 2014 of eligible voters that voted. This is an indication that citizens are losing interest and faith in democracy to be able to address their pressing problems.
Parliaments are the backbone of all democracies and people are told that the parliament is a representation of everyone in the country. In reality the people are absent in the decision making in parliament and that creates disconnection between the people and the parliamentarians. The parliamentarians are also never punished it they do not implement laws and economic objectives that they promised people in the run-up to the elections. Each MP in South Africa represents 130 000 citizens however those MPs do not consult with each of the people they represent and mainly keep links with their respective political parties and get a mandate from their political parties. We are told that the parliament is a representation of the people but the mandate that parties carry are not from the people but from their respective parties. A parliament becomes the parliament of the winning party. Another problem is that votes can be bought by the rich and that disadvantages the poor as they are unable to compete in the elections.
A political party comprises of people who share the same belief, belong to the same region, have a common perception and a common interest. The party that wins the elections then imposes its values, believes and interest to the whole country. The people who live in a country have a diversity of interests, ideas, values and temperaments and the imposition by a party that won elections is not liked by many communities. The reason why political parties are formed is to rule over a nation and not only members of the party. The existence of many political parties intensifies the struggle for power to lead in government and these results in opposition parties attempting by all means to undermine the position of the party that rules by denouncing and criticising in public on everything. In some instances the opposition parties can raise a good solution in parliament to solve a social problem and the party that rules can use its majority to reject those great suggestions because they would not want to be seen as agreeing with the opposition. A ruling party agreeing with the opposition would give the opposition the ammunition to state in public that the ruling party is useless and does what they say and use that to get some votes of the ruling party. This battle between the parties can be at the expense of higher social issues being overlooked. Opposition parties always cast doubt on the ruling party even if the achievements and plans of the ruling party may be beneficial to society. This results in members of the society being the victims of the struggle of power between the political parties. This struggle is unfortunately very destructive to the society as a whole. Another problem is that parties can be bribed from either inside or outside.
These problems associated with democracy are not only South African problems but are a global phenomenon present in all democratic countries. I would like this article to spark a debate so feel free to comment and indicate whether you agree with my explanation or not. Most importantly I would like to get some suggestions from you on how these problems can be solved or if you believe that an alternative system of governance from democracy would be better for the nation.