What is democracy?
Democracy is defined as the type of governance in which the rule is in the hands of the people, it " is a government of the people for the people and by the people" (Lincoln, 1858). Most African countries are democratic, so the rules are being made in Favour of the majority but without hindering or violating the rights of the minorities such as the disabled, prostitutes, etc. There are many measures that can be put in order to know whether or not a country is democratic, and one measure is having regular general elections.
What is an election?
Elections are the processes involved in choosing the country leaders by its citizen through voting, they must be held when they are due under what is stipulated in the supreme law of the land, for example, in Zambia elections are held every five years. To add more, a measure is something that has been put in place in order to monitor, regulate, or assess something.
Importance of elections to democracy?
- Elections supply legitimacy. Legitimacy is a general belief that the state power to make and enforce rules is justified and accepted by the people in that country. Therefore, it is only through elections that we put the best authority in office. The election process ensures that we put only legitimate leaders to office to rule the country. If leaders are selected or the governmental authority is based on legitimacy, it makes the citizens fully take part in national affairs and obey what the government legislates.
- Elections ensures that the government rules the country according to the rule of law, which is also one element of democracy. The rule of law means that those in government rule the country under the constitution and other laws of the country. During election, the elected representatives of people ensure they rule the country within the jurisdictions of the constitution. This will ensure stability in the country, which will lead to a democratic way of living.
- Elections ensures accountability and transparency in the country. Accountability means that the leaders are answerable to the people who elected them to office. Transparency is a situation in which public resources are used for government and community programs in which everyone can see and benefit. Therefore, it is only through having elections that leaders who are accountable and transparent are chosen. This promotes democracy because leaders are serving the national interest first.
- Elections provide a mechanism of transfer of power. The transfer of power means shifting of political control or power from one person to another or from one party to another. This enables citizens to have regular opportunity to change the government. For example, transferring power that happened in 2011 from the MMD party to the PF party. In every democratic country, it is a mandate that leadership should change once the people see that the government is not serving the people's interest. Therefore, it is only during elections when people have power to change or maintain the government. In summary, we say elections are important in democracy for effective change of government.
- Elections provide the peace and stability necessary for development. During elections, political parties are made to come up with rules and goals that they want to achieve when voted in power, and these are written in a party manifesto. However, it is a mandate in every democratic to choose a leader or party which will install peace and stabilise the economy, which leads to national development. This was seen during the 2016 elections during which most parties were campaigning to Zambian citizens, telling them how they will: end corruption which is the threat to democracy; bring development; and also stabilize peace in the country.
Why elections can be sufficient measure to democracy?
Having elections can be a sufficient measure to democracy in most African states including Zambia because of the above articulated points such as supply of legitimacy, ensuring of rule of law, ensuring of accountability and transparency, provision of harmonious shifting of authority and peace, stability necessary for national development, which are all necessary and important for a democratic country to exist and function well.
Unifrog, (2021), why are elections important to democracy. available: here
Michael, C., Benoit, S. Y., and Nicolas, S. (2006). Intra- party politics and electoral completion. Research gate.available:here
Lincoln, (1858) Definition of Democracy (August 1, 1858), House Divided. Available here