First world elections: bottom-up or top down
Bottom-up theory is the more orthodox. It stresses the extent to which competive elections render goverments accountable to the governed. The last election determines who governs, the thought of the next election determines how they do so. Communication in the electoral emphasises from the bottom /the voters/ to the top /parties and goverments/. Competition between parties forces them to respond the views of the electors. The bottom-up view is that they do and so therefore does the electoral process which throws them in and out of office.
The top down view regards this as only a superficial analysis. Privatisation and deregulation were in fashion throughout the first world during 1980s. Overall, research findings offer more support for the bottom-up view. Competitive elections do make a difference to public policy. They can´t be dismissed as just sham.
Competitive elections are best seen as an exchange of influence between elites and voters. Elites gain authority in exchange for responsiveness to voters. The voters gain influence in exchange for obedience to decisions they only partly shaped. Elections benefit both rulers and ruled.
Elections in the second world
Elections under communist rule
Under communist rule, elections in the second world resembled the non-competitive contest still found in some developing countries. The functionss of elections in communist states were supposed to mobilise the population behind the party´s drive towards a communist society. The nomination process allowed the party to select candidates who had the qualities that the regime wished to emphasise – an outstanding work record or active involvement in the community. The campaign itself informed citizens about party achievements and priorities. People also had some oportunity to express grievances about how their local area was run.
Elections and the decary of communist rule
Elections in a few states did play a role in the slow decay of communist power which culminated in the convulsions of 1989. In Poland and to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union, voters used the opportunities provided by freer elections to express their hostility to communist rule.
Postcommunism: the founding elections
Just as 1987 had been the year of revolution in Eastern Europe, so 1990 was the year of elections. The first wave of postcommunist elections basically formed a sequence of founding elections. Not all the elections were fully competive but they did help to strengthen and confirm the postcommunist order. We can view these founding elections not as the end of the transition to democracy, but as only the beginning of a long a tortuous path. They did not give a full insight into the party systems which are likely to predominate into the 21. century. In several countries, the elections were clearly transitional: the broad umbrella movements, which had demolished the crumbling structures of communism, proved to be a dominant force.
Elections in the third world
Elections in the third world have taken the form of plebiscities held by dictators to ´confirm´ their own rule. Or they have been nationally competitive elections where one party has used bribery and coercion to maintain its power. Or they have taken the form of contests where competition was permitted but only between candidates standing on the same party ticket. Only recently, in the 1980s and early 1990s, have elections offering a genuine choice between parties and policies became more widespread.
Even in the growing number of third world countries that do hold competetive elections, the object of competition is usually specific rewards rather than ideology. Votes are exchanged for particular benefits which go to individuals, ethnic groups or communities. Whereas class-based parties in the first world used ideology to justify their promise of an improved standard of living for all their supporters, the exchange in third world countries is more practical and specific.
An electoral system is a set of rules for conducting an election. T is far more than the procedures for translating votes into seats. One of the most importan features of an electoral system is its scope. Which offices are subject to election is as fundamental as who has the right to vote.
The franchise /who can vote/ is another important element of an electoral system. In most democracies, the vote now extends to nearly all citizens aged at least eighteen. The main exclusions are criminals, the mantally incompetent and non-citizens rezidents such as guest workers. However, this ´universal´ franchise is relatively recent.
Ďaľšie referáty z kategórie
Elections and Voters
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