Election is a method of choosing leaders or making decisions by a process of voting. It is the process of selecting a person or persons for office through voting. Ancient Athens had a system of elections in which all citizens could vote. With the birth of modern democracy, elections have become a universal way of choosing legislative representatives and government leaders. These persons represent the people in the government of a country. Election remains the most democratic way of choosing leaders, because the people themselves choose who will rule them. Election presents two or more alternatives to the people to choose from.
Elections are now standard practice in many public and private organizations. People in every sphere of life have embraced election as the main method of choosing their representatives, where all the people cannot be directly involved in governance. For instance, elections are held in schools, village meetings, clubs, churches, union groups, etc; to choose those who will be at the helm of affairs in such organizations.
Nigeria is one of the countries that have accepted to be governed through representatives. This is called democracy, and it is only possible through election. Therefore, all the political positions to be contested for, are carried out through elections.
Importance Of Election
In every representative government or democracy, election remains the only legitimate means of selecting leaders. The population of citizens is large and only few people are required to represent them in government. Elections, therefore, becomes not only important but very inevitable. Some of the importance of elections are discussed below:
1. Change Of Government
Election is the only acceptable means of changing government from one regime to another. This is because, through election, the people choose their representatives by themselves.
Election makes representatives to be accountable to the people. They report back to the people what they have done or achieved. If they fail to do this, the electorate will drop them in the next election.
3. Political Education
During electioneering campaigns, political parties create awareness in politics and give voters the opportunity to learn about the electoral processes.
4. Helps The Minority
Through free and fair election, the minority will be able to express their opinion and avoid being swallowed up by the majority. In Nigeria, the three major ethnic groups are Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa, but there are people in Nigeria who do not belong to any of the groups mentioned. They are few in number and are called the minority groups e.g. Plateau, Kwara, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, etc.
5. Public Opinion
Election is used to measure public opinion, because the government will know what the people think about them. They will also know how popular their programmes are.
6. Promotes Healthy Competition
In an ideal situation, election leads to a healthy competition among the political parties as they try to win the love of the electorates.
7. Election Makes It Possible For Different Views To Be Represented In The Legislature
People from different backgrounds, political parties and ideas are elected into the legislature with their wealth of knowledge.