Democratic Politics (NTSE/Olympiad)
3. Outcomes of Democracy
Accountable, Responsive And Legitimate Government
Accountable, Responsive And Legitimate Government They are some things that democracy must provide. In a democracy, we are most concerned with ensuring that people will have the right to choose their rules and people will have control over the rulers. Whenever possible and necessary, citizens should be able to participate in decision making that affects them all. Therefore, the most basic outcome of democracy should be that it produces a government that is accountable to the citizen, and responsive to the needs and expectations of the citizens.
Is the democratic government efficient ? Is it effective : Some people think that democracy produces less effective government. It is of course true that non-democratic rulers do not have to deliberate in assemblies and worry about majorities and public opinion. So, they can be very quick and efficient in decision making and implementation. Democracy is based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation. So, some delay is bound to take place.
The democratic government will take more time to follow procedures before arriving at a decision. But because it has followed procedures, its decisions may be both more acceptable to the people and more effective. So, the cost of time that democracy pays is perhaps worth it.
Democracy ensures that decision making will be based on norms and procedures. So a citizen, who wants to know if a decision was taken through the correct procedures, can find this out. She has the right and the means to examine the process of decision making. This is known as transparency. This factor would often be missing from a non-democratic government. We can expect that the democratic government develops mechanism for citizens to hold the government accountable and mechanisms for citizens to take part in decision making whenever they think fit. If we wanted to measure democracies on the basis of this expected outcome. We would look for the following practices and institutions; regular free and fair election; open public debate on major policies and legislations and citizens’ right to information about the government and its functioning. The actual performance of democracies shows a mixed record on this. Democracies have had greater success in setting up regular and free elections and in setting up regular and free elections and in setting up conditions for open public debate. But most democracies fall short of elections that provide a fair chance to everyone and in subjecting every decision to public debate. Democratic government do not have a very good record when it comes to sharing information with citizens. All one can say in favour of democratic regimes is that they are much better than any non-democratic regime in these respects.
In substantive terms it may be reasonable to expect from democracy a government that is attentive to the needs and demands of the people and is largely free of corruption. The record of democracies is not impressive on these two counts. Democracies often frustrate the needs of the people and often ignore the demand of majority of its population. The routine tales of corruption are engough to convince us that democracy is not free of this evil. At the same time there is nothing to show that non-democracies are less corrupt or move sensitive to the people.
There is one respect in which democratic government is certainly better than its alternatives : democratic government is legitimate government. It may be slow, less efficient not always very responsive or clean. But a democratic government is people’s own government. This is why there is an overwhelming support for the ideal democracy all over the world.