“The law of large numbers, in probability and statistics, states that as a sample size grows, its mean gets closer to the average of the whole population”. When this law is applied to an electoral process, it means, or rather, implies that over time, the leaders will hold the exact sentiment of the average citizen. When the average citizen is well educated, disciplined and of high standing, then the same will replicate in the leadership and the converse also holds true. When the average citizen is poor and uneducated it’s a matter of when, not if, the mathematical law of large numbers will kick in and ensure that the leaders exactly replicate the average sentiment, character and intellect of the people.
The founders of the democratic structures must have anticipated this potential dilution of leadership qualities thus infusing and holding sacrosanct the cardinal principles of independence of the other arms of government and that of separation of powers to act as adequate checks and balances to the excesses and/or deficiencies of the people – replicated in the political class. At the very least, the judiciary, in a democracy, is made up of the most intelligent and most qualified learned professionals from the bench and bar but the moment you replace meritocracy with a quota system, the entire structure of a democracy is compromised and the dearth of a democracy is certain…well, it doesn’t “die” per se, it just evolves into something less than appropriate.
It will seem like the antithesis of a democracy is a dictatorship,but it is very difficult to morph from a democracy to dictatorship without keen resistance. In my opinion based on the observation of the evolution in general and specifically, that of a democracy, the modern day coup will be that which ensures that a dictator surrounds himself in the appearance of a democracy but where the checks and balances have been either subverted, compromised or act in collusion.
At the 2018 annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg, fmrUS president Barack Obama listed some of the defining qualities of a democracy in his speech of which an excerpt is reproduced as:
“So we have to stop pretending that countries that just hold an election where sometimes the winner somehow magically gets 90% of the vote because all the opposition is locked up or can’t get on TV is a democracy. Democracy depends on strong institutions; and it’s about minority rights and checks and balances and freedom of speech and freedom of expression and a free press; and a right to protest and petition the government; and an independent judiciary; and everybody having to follow the law.”
One of the things Obama is saying is that the fact the people went out to vote, whether or not those votes were valid, doesn’t imply that the country has a democracy because, though all types of democracies use voting, not all governments that employ voting implies a democracy.
So, a question immediately comes to mind: if a country votes and the winner is sworn in but yet, it isn’t a democracy, what on earth is it?
Here’s the definition of an electocracy: a political system where citizens are able to vote for their government but cannot participate in the decisions the government makes and where the government does not share any of its power with the people. An electocracy ensures that the decision making is left solely in the hands of a few elected people and/or a cabal and they then govern in an arbitrary, unpredictable and unaccountable manner UNTIL the next election.
Though this definition is rather robust, I can’t help but paint the picture of a country that employs this deviant style of governance.
Every period, say 3 or 4 years, the politicians come out and woo the citizens via pleas, apologies, gifts, inducements and/or threatsjust so that they can retain their political offices. They will, in this style, do anything and say anything that will ensure that they do not lose the power they have to remain in office. I imagine that they may even go as far as employing thugs to subvert the will of the people and naturally, violence will be a hallmark of election period in an electocracy.
Once winners and losers are announced, because of the power involved in office, those two have the power at the higher levels of government will likely attempt to subvert the judiciary to ensure that their power balance isn’t impeded.
An electocracy has a few advantages! For instance, because there’s no involvement of the people, there won’t be a robust consideration nor interaction with the people on the impact of policy decision and therefore, decision making is, or should I say, can be, significantly swifter.
Also, passing laws can be done much faster. This will likely be because a small number of people who form a cabal will make those decisions and use the legislature as a mere rubber stamp to their desires.
Where the elected officials have the peoples interests at heart, these may seem like valuable advantages but as you can imagine, the cost, means and methods by which the politicians in an electocracy get into power will naturally be at variance with having the peoples interest. Invariably, these advantages will be for the propagation of politicians selfish interest. With such powers which can be exercised swiftly, the natural tendency is for an electocracy to have a “winner takes all” mentality and “fight to the death” elections. This preoccupation with a winner takes all mentality coupled with the lack of accountability that’s prevalent in the mindset of not involving citizens, encourages a power broking block within the political elite that not only completely obliterates with office of the citizen, but ensures that the pillars of a true democracy: the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, are all subverted and firmly in control of the cabal who will, more than likely, sit within the executive. Why the executive? That’s where the arms and ammunition is controlled.
The power bloc that controls the gun control everything else. In practice, it becomes very easy for the lines to get rather blurred between a dictatorship or a government by coup and an electocracy
As you’ll expect, it’s less than likely that any group of people will willingly choose an electocracy but, invariably, a democracy with weak institutions will evolve into an electocracy as those institution become more and more compromised. A government of electocracy will give succor to the people that they are in a democracy and make sure the citizens. Focus on the periodic elections and deceive them that the exercise of their civic duty of voting is the MOST they can do.
Zeal likes to write about things people don’t like to think of.
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