Elections and Democracy
Democracy means literally the “rule of the people”. Democratic values, attitudes, processes and forms of government are central foci of analysis within Political Science. This theme covers, and cuts across, the traditional thematic division between political theory, public policy and administration, comparative politics and international politics.
Elections are essential to modern democracies. Elections take place in various forms and span all levels – from the local to the global. Democratic elections have two important functions:
- Elections are a method for choosing political leaders. Elections may be used to ensure that people in charge make for a representative sample of the voters, with regards to values, attitudes, opinions, and perhaps also important social characteristics.
- Elections are also a means to accountability and control over the leaders. In a democracy the voters have the possibility of rectifying or replacing leaders whose actions do not match the expectations of the voters. Political leaders must therefore seek to accommodate the interest of the voters in order to attain renewed trust at the following election. Elections may thus contribute to making the decision-making process or general governance more representative.