Table Of Content
- Definition Of Franchise
- Types Of Franchise
- Limited Or Restricted Franchise
- Argument For Limited Or Restricted Franchise
- Argument Against Limited Franchise
- Universal Adult Suffrage
- Merits Of Universal Adult Suffrage
- Demerits Of Universal Adult Suffrage
Meaning Of Franchise
Franchise may be defined as the rights of qualified adult citizens of a given society to vote and to be voted for in an election. The electors are constitutionally known as the electorate while those seeking to be elected are called candidates. Those to be given the right to vote and be voted For-franchise, very from country to country based on certain criteria.
Types Of Franchise
There are two main types of franchise namely: Limited or restricted franchise and unlimited or universal franchise or universal adult suffrage.
1. Limited Or Restricted Franchise
In this type of franchise, not all qualified adults are allowed to vote or to be voted for. Franchise is therefore granted to only those adults that fulfil certain conditions. The criteria for voting and to be voted for in a limited franchise may depend on one’s race, sex, property owned, evidence of payment of taxes; educational qualification, religion,etc. South Africa is a good example of a country practising restricted franchise based mainly on race before apartheid regime was dismantled in 1994.
1. Race Or Colour: In this type of franchise, it is one’s race or colour that determines whether one can vote or not. This was the situation in South African before 1994.
2. Sex: One’s sex determines the right to vote or be voted for. In some countries only males are allowed to vote and contest elections. Only adult males were allowed to vote under the 1922 constitution of Nigeria.
3. Property: The Amount of property an individual has will qualify him vote and contest elections.
4. Payment Of Taxes: Franchise is granted to those that pay their taxes as and when due. This system was adopted in the western region election in Nigeria in 1954.
5. Educational Qualification: An individual’s level of education decides his /her right to vote or to be voted for.
6. Income: The amount Of money that one is earning can determine the right to vote or be voted for as practised in Nigeria under the 1922 constitution (£100 or ₦200 per annum) and the 1946 constitution (€50 or ₦100 per annum).
7. Residential Qualification: A number of months of year an individual has lived in a particular area will determine his right to vote. This was also used the 1922 constitution of Nigeria.
Arguments For Limited Or Restricted Franchise
1. It gives few well informed citizens the opportunity to vote after critical scrutiny of the candidates.
2. This type of franchise eliminates the uninformed from voting in an election.
3. It seems to be more mature elections than unlimited franchise.
4. Candidate elected through this type of franchise tend to be more qualified than their counterparts through universal franchise where voters vote blindly.
5. It prevents foreigner who do not know much about candidates contesting elections from voting.
6. Limited franchise does not allow people of unsound or unbalanced, mind like lunatic, criminals, bankrupts, etc, who may vandalize the election to vote.
7. Limited franchise reduces the rate of election violence.
8. By allowing only those with evidence of tax payment to vote makes tax payers to watch their representative with eagle eye on the utilisation of their tax money.
Arguments Against Limited Franchise
1. It does not give all Equality of chance to vote.
2. Limited franchise is prone to corruption because, the few people allowed to vote can all be bribed.
3. Those elected through Limited franchise do no reflect popular choice.
4. Limited franchise is less democratic.
5. Majority of the citizens of the country to not show interest in the affairs of the government since they were disenfranchised.
6. Many eligible voters do not know their representative when Limited franchise is adopted.
7. The representative seem to be imposed on the majority of the disenfranchised citizens.
8. Banned Politicians: In a country like Nigeria presently former politicians found guilty of certain forms of corruption and those who held certain categories of post in the second republic are banned from taking parts in politics and election.
2. Universal Adult Suffrage
This type of franchise also known as unlimited or universal franchise allows all qualified men and women adults to vote and be voted for. This is the most popular form of franchise. It can therefore safely be said that there is no country where total or complete universal adult suffrage exists.
Merits Of Universal Adult Suffrage
1. It gives qualified adults equality of votes.
2. Universal adult suffrage widens voters base.
3. It the opportunity of full participation of many citizens of a country in their electoral system.
4. It is a more democratic election.
5. Universal adult suffrage creates sense of political equality among the citizens of a country.
6. It avoids discriminations based on sex, Race, religion, etc.
7. It makes for a stable government because, participation of majority of the citizens in the election of their representatives reduces ill-feelings and revolts.
8. It makes majority of the citizens to take interest in the affairs of the government of their country.
9. Unlimited franchise is not prone to corruption because, it will be very difficult to buy over majority of adults that take part in the voting in the election.
10. Elected representatives through universal adult suffrage reflect popular choice.
Demerits Of Universal Adult Suffrage
1. It emphasizes quantity rather than quality of votes.
2. Majority of the adult voters allowed to vote and illiterates who vote blindly.
3. Majority of the voters do not critically scrutinize the candidates as a result of illiteracy and lack of political awareness.
4. The involvement of many people in the voting encourages violent polling.
5. It encourages the election of many unqualified representatives by majority of illiterate voters.
6. The type of government formed with the representatives elected through unlimited franchise seem to be mediocre in outlook.