Political process is the process in which few representatives of certain political parties or independent candidates are nominated to be elected by general public. The turnout in elections mean the percentage of people from the total eligible population coming out and casting their vote during elections. The number of people participating in the process of electing a candidate depends on various factors. In recent decade, a large number of people have been avoiding to participate in political process due to several reasons. These reasons may include economic, cultural, and many other aspects of life. This paper is aimed at recognizing these reasons in details while keeping the counter arguments under consideration.
The factors studied in this paper include political culture, lack of trust in politicians as well as the political system due to various reasons, low level of education resulting in not having enough knowledge, skills and confidence to participate in the political process and poor financial situation resulting in having lesser extra time for such activities.
The participation of general public in political affairs can be viewed better if the relation between the effectiveness of governments and the prevalent beliefs of public is understood. If a democratic government intends to function properly then it is very essential that its public should have substantial share of beliefs and fundamental values to define at this point, a citizen may be of great importance for the government and in order to give his preference for another political party to win and come in power. This type of thinking does not pose any significant challenge; rather they promote the smooth and active functioning of democracy by openly persuading public to take dynamic part in development of democracy.
Whereas, if in this case, the same individual is highly vital and supervise the crucial position in key institutions like civil service, Parliament, judiciary and likewise than the matter will be of different nature. If the majority of public is of the view that ruling politician are morally and practically corrupt and the institutions served by them are venal and totally irrelevant, in such a situation it is likely to predict that they tend to ignore or undermine the political matters and government processes altogether. An important facet of this concept is that, if such views become prevalent and widespread in masses and society then it is very likely to happen that effective functioning of democracy will become impossible. Therefore, it is highly imperative to incorporate the values, beliefs and basic rights of general public and they should own and play pivotal role towards the effective working of the democratic system.
The most important factor that has reduced the turnout of political process by around 20% in last four decades is the lack of trust on the political system as well as the politicians. There are three major reasons for the mistrust of people on the political system as well as the politicians. The beliefs and political ideology that pertain to contemporary Britain in relation to democratic process and practices. Listed below are the six critical attitudes that are considered to be very instrumental to ensure smooth and systematic functioning of democracy : -
- The attitude of general public or citizen towards the government, or it can be simply said; the expectation of public about how a progressive and democratic government should serve its people.
- The commitment and acceptance of the obligation that citizens owe to its state, and the honest willingness to work up to those obligations.
- The aptitude of public to accept the difference of views, the ability to acknowledge and tolerate different political stances.
- The firm believes and unshaken trust on the system and institutes, it also entails trust on the whole political mechanism as well as on member citizens.
- The vision to change things, or to make them work in better way by being an active part of the whole political process, called as political efficacy.
- The degree or level of keen interest in political affairs.
People’s mistrust on the political system and politicians is due to the fact that there have been several instances in recent past in which the politicians have not fulfilled their promises after winning the elections. There is a general trend set by politicians to make promises of developing certain policies to facilitate people in better manner and make the lives of people better than before but it is often seen that the same policies are either not formulated after forming the government or if these are made then not applied in true sense
It is very important to analyze the thinking pattern of voters to take part in election. Provided a situation in which an average individual has zero or little interest and knowledge about politics, he/she tends to be more inclined to find out ways so to simplify the his/her political choice, It includes the voting decision as well. In this process the leaders of a particular political party plays an instrumental role, it make the voting decision of such individual very easy and simple. People are habitual of judging and therefore automatically infer various relevant political judgments related to the competency, intelligence, honesty, commitment towards nation building and likewise.
There is a prevailing thought among people that the politicians are only concerned with the votes in order to win the elections. The politicians are less often seen in public than as compared to the time when they are running their campaigns. These judgments will be purely backed by what people conclude from the body language, face and voice of a leader. On the other hand, it is comparatively a much complex process for an individual who is not well aware of the political affairs; thereby it will be very intricate task to understand about different political parties and their relevant issues. Few of the voters will simply make choice between the leaders of political parties for the position of PM (Prime Minister) and will not take a broad vision of whole system of government. Some will only idealize leaders, and will evaluate the performance of the whole party based on his/her performance.
This way is very meaningful in situation when a party is not in power for some time. For instance, the prevalent perception that the Labor in UK had during 1997 became a credible party of the government owing a lot to the impressions of Mr. Tony Blair considered as a capable and strong leader. It was not based on scrutinizing the overall party's policies and the party’s personnel, many of the voters instead refereed the political parties by their leaders. Putting this another way, the leaders play a crucial role in the participation of people in the political process .
It is considered that the political procedure for a common person is known as the process of getting the power to decide about the future government of the country. This political process should then be considered as having prime importance owing to the criticality of the outcome of the process. The economic and social background of the participants of political process becomes important if it is established that the activities of group pressure results in bringing the returns as expected by common man. The environmentalists, for instance, affect the decision regarding building a roadway from the forest or villages. In other scenario, these activists may be people who are against nuclear weapons, or miners who want to keep their pits open. The outcome of the decision of these people in the political process would greatly depend upon the aims they have in their minds regarding changing the policies or implementing specific decisions through electing a political party. This concludes that participation in the process of elections is heavily dependent on a person’s personal gains from that s/he look forward in the political party s/he is voting to .
Aristotle presented the definition of citizenship in his text written on political affairs, it was written when solon rule was over. In his definition Aristotle narrated that citizen or general public individual is someone who rules as well as ruled. He is of the view that most distinguishing characteristic of a citizen is the one who participates in executive port and judicial system of the government. A citizen is someone who actively takes part in the process of decision making in collaboration with others and consequently respects these mutually taken decisions and the concerned authorities. Lawful participation in the process of decision making is the basic need of active nationality.
The fundamental requirement of the system is that contributors should be equal status wise or peers, it precisely describes which individual to be called as a citizen and which individual is not. According to Aristotle, for an individual to be a citizen needs to be a male with known forebears, a combatant, a patriarch and also someone who owns a substantial amount of property, it means he must possess control over household and own slaves. His perception should be strictly depend on the peculiarity between polis, public and private realm. Whereas, the slaves and women are considered to be in control of the householder. The polis in general is considered as a sphere of public matter and it is demonstrated by an active participation of citizens, which symbolizes a good gesture. Therefore, citizen not only participate to resolve ordinary problems of the state but also because participation reflects a good will gesture .
The changes that took places after World War II resulted in higher rate of education among common masses, they have raised standards of self-esteem, and are self-motivated to make their decision independently. They want to create and chose their preferred institutional and geographic bonding. This concept should be analyzed while keeping the situational modifications that took place as a result of industrialization. The society suffered a long tenure of poverty, lack of educational opportunities and had no choice to make decisions independently keeping their self-esteems intact.
The parliamentary system of British was established to look after substantial executive power and elected representation. It was established during the time when there was very limited availability of educational provision and during which rigid and reverence hierarchy along with social relations was supposed to be for granted. The elected and executive legislative bodies used to rely on such elements to remain assured that they have commanded the population respect and a large scale consent on their decisions. However, in today’s world few of the citizens if not all, are living a modern era of higher educational facilities, flexible social bonds and popular cynicism prefer to take decisions of their own choice that reflect firm self-determination. Majority of people today expect significant response and respect from the public, professional and business services who at times in past expected same from general public.
There is no proven fact as to why the elected representatives and state should be same. The party system in British is primarily based on the governance of two parties raised around the benefits of two prominent classes of manufacturing period. However, as it has been made very clear earlier that the values, interest and two prominent classes have vanished significantly. Rather, in today’s world societies, individuals are more educated and independent and their values, interest and identity in an assorted and fluid manner and are completely in line with modern world where geographic, social, economic and institutional bonding largely depend on personal choice. When contribution meet up the levels of expectation of citizens, only then the citizens tend to participate. The basic underlying hindrance for formal institutions and processes come in to play here, because they don’t meet those expectations anymore. Instead, they work in opposite direction of those set standards and expectations .
The fact that people have started to lose interest in participating in political process can be well established through the data pertaining to the turnout of people in the election process. Britain in 1950 had a turnout of around 79% which fell greatly over next 4 decades making it around 59% by the year 2000. The change of turnout of voters in the elections during past 4 decades in Britain is therefore around 20%. Similar trends are seen in other democracies including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Italy, and Switzerland etc. where turnout in elections has decreased by more than 15% in past 40 years .
The political culture heavily affects the participation of people in the political process due to the prevailing state of understanding of the importance of political system in each region. The major categories in this regard can be made on the basis of education, economic conditions and participation in wars including war on terror etc. The most important factor that has reduced the turnout of political process by around 20% in last 4 decades is the lack of trust on the political system as well as the politicians. There are three major reasons for the mistrust of people on the political system as well as the politicians.
The very first reason is that there is a prevailing thought among people that the politicians are only concerned with the votes in order to win the elections. The politicians are less often seen in public than as compared to the time when they are running their campaigns. The second reason of people’s mistrust on the political system and politicians is that there have been several instances in recent past in which the politicians have not fulfilled their promises after winning the elections. There is a general trend set by politicians to make promises of developing certain policies to facilitate people in better manner and make the lives of people better than before but it is often seen that the same policies are either not formulated after forming the government or if these are made then not applied in true sense. The third reasons of mistrust present in the mind of general public is that there are several people such as Russell Brand who have criticized the present system while highlighting the negative points of the system.
A major reason of low level of participation among people in the political process includes low level education. The low level of education results in not having enough knowledge, skills and confidence to participate in the political process. People are hesitant to take part in the political process if they are not well educated. In certain cases, the low level of participation in the political process is due to the poor financial conditions of the people. The people are so busy and are worried about their financial conditions that they consider taking part in political process as wastage of time. These people think that the time spent in participating in the political process can be used to earn more money in order to make a better living.
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