ELECTION: Concepts, Terms & Functions of Election


Concepts of Election

Elections are an essential component to the functioning of any democratic system. It would appear that elections have become a significant role in the process of fledgling democracies becoming more stable and democratic. It is a significant pillar that gives the people the power to govern themselves, which is the goal of democracy. According to Boafo-Arthur (2006), elections are significant to the building of a nation and the electorates because they serve as a litmus test for democratic institutions.

This makes elections crucial. It ensures the fortification of democratic pillars such as the rule of law, the confidentiality of ballots, the separation of powers, and the independence of the judicial system, amongst many others. Citizens are consequently able to participate in the government process through the use of elections. As a result, elections provide the populace with the option to choose who will serve as their leaders. Elections are used as a tool for electorates to evaluate how well leadership or administrations have performed in a variety of aspects of national life, including education, the economy, agriculture, levels of corruption, and the standard of living, amongst other aspects. As a result, it is a crucial process that determines how power is distributed, which is essential for the operation of representative democracies.

Elections, and more especially voting, are key mechanisms that are utilized in every democracy to pick candidates to fill political office positions. They allow candidates to appeal to electorates and explain their intended policies before they are voted into power, which allows them to aggregate preferences, help select better public officials, and provide incentives for politicians to act in the interest of the voters they represent (Persson & Tabellini, 2000). This is because elections are the means by which candidates are able to explain their policies to electorates before they are voted into power. According to Chazan (1987), there are two primary functions of elections around the world, and in particular in Africa. The first is to change a regime and its leadership, and the second is to seek approval from the electorates in order to enhance democratic and constitutional transition. In Africa, the first function is particularly important. At the present day, the national leaders of a number of nations around the world are chosen through the process of multi-party elections. However, in some developing countries, particularly in Africa, the quality of elections is still quite variable. This is due to the fact that elections have been plagued with issues such as ballot fraud, intimidation, multiple voting, low voter education, snatching of ballot boxes, violence, giving out electoral incentives or buying votes, and a number of other issues. (Stokes, 2005; Schaffer, 2007; Vincente, 2008; Kramon, 2009).

Functions of Election

  • Voters are given the ability to select the leaders they want for their country and to hold those leaders accountable for their actions while in government.
  • Integration on a social and political level is made easier as a result.
  • People are able to satisfy their desire to feel like they belong through voting, which offers them the opportunity to voice their opinions and satisfies their need to have their voices heard.
  • It provides as a mechanism for selecting candidates for political leadership or office and making appointments.
  • It is a mechanism for effecting or assuring a smooth transition from one government to another.
  • It assures that political leaders will be accepted by the general populace.
  • It contributes to the maintenance of governmental stability.
  • It makes it possible for citizens, and especially voters, to have an active role in the government of their country.
  • It bestows democratic legitimacy and popular support upon a government.
  • In a democracy, it serves as a means of guaranteeing that the people hold the political sovereignty and that it is vested in them.
  • The ultimate will of the electorate can be realized through the electoral process.