Democratic Politics (NTSE/Olympiad)  

4. Challenges to Democracy

Thinking About Political Reforms

Thinking About Political Reforms
(i) No doubt, law has an important but limited role to play in political reform. Carefully devised changes in law can help to discourage wrong political practices and encourage good ones. But legal constitutional changes by themselves cannot overcome challenges to democracy.
(ii) Any legal change must carefully look at what results it will have on politics. Sometimes the results may be counter-productive.
For example many states have banned people who have more than two children from contesting panchayats elections. This has resulted in denial do democratic opportunity to many poor and women, which was not intended. Generally, laws that seek to ban something are not very successful in politics. Laws that give political actors incentives to do good things have more chances of working. The best laws are those which empowers the people to find out and act as watchdogs of democracy. Such a law helps to control corruption and supplements the existing laws that banned corruption and imposed strict penalties.
(iii) Democratic reforms are to be brought about principally through political practice. Therefore the main focus of political reforms should be on ways to strengthen democratic practice. As we discussed in the chapter on political parties, the most important concern should be increase and improve the quality of political participation by ordinary citizens.
(iv) Any proposal for political reforms should think not only about what is a good solution but also about who will implement it and why. It is not very wise to think that the parliaments will pass legislations that go against the interest of all the political parties and MPs. But measures that rely on democratic movements, citizen’s organisations and the media are likely to succeed.


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