Saturday, September 15, 2007

Zambian democracy under scrutiny.

"I have read this to mean if 51% of the population elect a Member of Parliament, genuine democracy means that that person should reflect the will of the people, and not vote according to his will. Assuming my interpretation of your position is correct, then there are indeed areas of difference. The question of whether the electoral system is democratic is divorced from the question of whether that ‘democratic system’ correctly ensures that the person who is elected reflects the will of the majority." Cho

The way this scenario plays out in Zambia, evokes the most puzzling doubts about whether democracy is really still in play – I may be too simplistic but what would you think if –

You went to dinner in a group and after a discussion between the choices of a steak or seafood restaurant. The group finds that the majority prefers the steak restaurant; they then decide on a menu and choose a representative to make the order. But because the representative feels seafood may be a better diet for his health, he orders seafood for the group and brings the bill along for the group to settle.

Does the order still represent the will of the majority?

During general elections, candidates present themselves under one party and sign a social contract with the electorate to undertake specific development programs. However, after securing the initial votes, some MP's switch parties or deliver programs usually at the bottom of the electorate's priority list.
Results of by-elections show a much lower voter turn out even when the same candidate wins under a different party.
Besides the financial loss suffered by the electorate forced to fund another election, do low turn outs also convey a loss of the majority support or will?

No comments: