Elections per se
20 September, 2012
Elections per se

Elections! How to guarantee that they be rendered fair and free? I would like to generalize this more or less emphatic question and detach it from one particular political culture and venue. So this talk is not necessarily about Georgia. And this editorial needs to be perceived only as a reminder of where our modern civilization stands today in terms of choosing political leaders as such. 

As it is well known, the mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates is not

very complicated. What is an election after all? By the most common definition, extracted from popular text-books, it is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Election is universally used as a tool for selecting representatives to function on behalf of people either in the government or in a legislative body. There cannot be anything simpler than this. At the first sight though! Actually, choosing the leaders of a nation is an act of huge consequence. An error here might trigger national disaster or conversely, could be a precondition for national prosperity. Therefore, an electorate needs to be extremely careful in making those decisive historical choices, and not only that! Electors need to be educated too in the affairs of national significance. Throughout history, nations have kept reforming their electoral systems because they have never been perfectly optimal in the political life of any nation, thus providing for the desired fairness and effectiveness of existing systems. Elections per se are as ancient as Greece and Rome, where the nature of democracy had dictated the main rule of the game that the elected officials are accountable to the people. It is commonplace throughout the world, especially in newly-born democracies, that elections do not meet international standards of being fair and free. In cases like this, responsibility is usually identified with the absence of strong rule of law, when the authorities are not very fastidious about interfering in the electoral process. To remain in power is a sweet and alluring pleasure, and not many elected rulers can resist the temptation. Understandable, isn’t it? Those leaders are regular humans by nature after all. Isn’t it funny that in our modern world of common sense, sophisticated technologies and overwhelming connectivity, the electoral fraud might still come to some weird heads? The impression is that the entire world is eagerly trying to monitor elections so that the fraud is either minimized or totally eliminated, but the reason to be afraid of fraud is still present and pestering. Unbelievable! Even in the countries of the strongest traditions of free and fair elections, there is always a suspicion that something might go wrong. Where is the protection? Is there any? Could there be any? Well... intensive truthful and educative information of the electorate by the media might be one of the helpers; genuine freedom and objectivity of press could also be an asset; minimized corporate control must be a considerable slack too; uncurtailed freedom of speech should do a good job; defiance of state propaganda and ban on favoring of certain political views will perfect the process as well; fairness of opponents to each other and curbing of their reciprocal mudslinging would certainly play a role. Not a full list of course!

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