POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN 2015 ELECTION (POLITICAL SCIENCE PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)
- Background to the Study
Throughout the World today, political systems are undergoing qualitative transformation from authoritarian to participatory regimes. This worldwide trend, otherwise known as democratization (Elekwa, 2008:iv) has made the issue of election a critical political imperative. Election as a democratic practice refers to the system whereby the citizenry (organized as electorate) consciously choose people into civic roles through a competitive selection process (Raymond, 2000:164). International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences vol.5 defines election “as a procedure of aggregating preferences of a particular kind”. The two features of this definition are procedure and preferences. By procedure, the concept is used to describe a special way of doing something while preference connotes choice between alternatives. Election can also be described as a procedure that allows members of an organization, community or a nation to choose representatives who will hold positions of authority within it. According to Givinn and Norton, (1992) election is the formal process of selecting a person for public office or accepting or registering a political proposition by voting. They state further that an election is one of the means by which a society may organize itself and make specified formal decisions, adding that where voting is free, it acts simultaneously as a system for making certain decisions regarding the power relations in a society and as a method for seeking political obedience with a minimum of sacrifice of the individual‟s freedom.
The essence of a democratic election is a freedom of choice. During elections, the electorate is given the opportunity to choose between alternative programmes of contestants. Elections also promote public accountability. The threat of defeat at the polls exerts pressure on those in power to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and take account of popular interests and demands when they make their decisions. There is no one accepted procedure of election. In ancient Greece, various types of procedures were used. These include voting by show of hands, written votes and ballots. In the old Roman Republic, elections of principal officers were by a plurality of tribes. In the medieval church, the election of superiors was by a small electorate consisting of those next in rank. However, with the emergence of liberal democracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth century in Western Europe, the concept of election took new meaning anchored on the principles of consent franchise and representation.