Meaning And Definition Of Representative Government: Advantages And Disadvantages

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Representative Government
  • Features Of Representative Government
  • Means And Conditions For The Establishment Of Representative Government.
  • Advantages Of Representative Government
  • Disadvantages Of Representative Government.

Meaning Of Representative Government

Representative government may be defined as a system of government in which the people through election elect those who will represent and govern the state on their dehalf. This system of government which is also knowm as indirect democracy replaced the direct democracy practised in the ancient small Greek city-states. Representative government became imperative as it is no more possible for everybody to gather in one place in order to take decisions to govern the state as a result of the large size and population of modern states.

Features Of Representative Government

1. Periodic Elections: This will provide the people the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice and remove those they on’t want again.

2. Free And Fair Elections: Even though periodic elections are held, the electoral body must make sure that the election are free aand fair so that people’s choices are not twisted.

3. Majority Rule: In a Representative government, through the minority has a say, the majority always have their way. Those with the highest number of votes are allowed to represent the people.

4. Party System: Representative government goes with a system in which politcal parties are allowed to exist for the purpose of formation of government on political party basis.

5. Existence Of Opposition Parties: This will ensure that members of the elected political party do not abuse the powers the people delegated to them.

6. Means Of Guaranteeing People’s Rights: In a representative government, people’s rights are guaranteed through rule of law, independent judiciary, written constitution, a free press, etc.

7. Separation Of Powers: In a representative government all the governmental powers that exist in the country are not concentrated in one body but are separated among the three organs of government-legislature, execuutive and judiciary.

8. Universal Franchise: In a representative government, the universal adult suuffrage in which all the qualified adult citizens are allowed to vote and be voted for thrives.

9. An Independence Electoral Body: This is another feature of a representative government that ensures that elections are free and fair.

10. Respect Of Minority Groups: In a representative government , the rights of the Minority groups are respected, in such a system of government, there is equal political rights to vote and to be voted for.

Means And Conditions For The Establishment Of Representative Government

For a representative government to succeed the following conditions are necessary:

1. Establishment Of The Electoral System: For a representative government to be possible, an electoral system that will create elective offices has to be established. In such electoral system, factors like delimitation of the country into constituencies, proper compilation of electoral register, frequent elections that should be free and fair among others should be taken into consideration.

2. Organised Party System: Organised political parties with well articulated programmes and manifestoes should be allowed to be formed for purposes of electing representatives of the people in an election.

3. Recognition Of Opposition: The government in power must accord recognition to official and unofficial opposition. It is through such means of opposition that the excesses of government officials can be properly checked.

4. A Written Constitution: There must be a written constitution that should clearly specify the modus operandi for the establishment of such a representative government and also to safeguard individual liberty.

5. Establishment Of Universal Franchise: For a representative government to thrive, all qualified adult citizens must be allowed to vote and be voted for. There should be no restriction for all adult citizens in the exercise of their political responsibilities.

6. Rule Of Law: For a representative government to be possible, all citizens must be equal in the eyes of the law of the land. Also, rulers should rule in accordance with the established laws of the land.

7. Establishment Of Fundamental Human Rights: Such fundamental human rights that are necessary for the establishment of a representative government include among others; freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly, association, expression and the press and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race of tribe, creed or political opinion and association.

8. An Independent Judiciary: An independent judiciary is a sine qa non for a representative government. For a judiciary to be independent, it must be insulated from the control of the other organs of government and its officials are free to take judicial decisions without any fear or favour.

Advantages Of Representative Government

1. One of the advantages of representative government is that it provides the people the opportunity to participate in the government of their country. Such an opportunity may be direct when they are voted for as representatives or indirect when they vote for their representatives.

2. Another advantage of representative government is that it ensures the election of government of the people by the people and for the people-democracy. Therefore, democracy which is the best form of government is made possible by representative government.

3. Representative government makes it possible for the application of the principles of checks and balances. The people who are elected as their representatives tend to keep eagle eye on the activities of such government.

4. Representative government prevents tyranny and oppression. This advantage is made possible by the fact that such representatives can be voted out in the next election if they apply elements of tyranny and oppression.

5. Representative government gives the people a sense of identity and belonging to the government. This is as a result of the fact that the people were given the opportunity to participate in the election of such government and this makes them to support it.

6. Another advantage of representative government is that it tends to be stable. This is mainly because as a government of the people, it receives people’s support and they feel satisfied with its activities.

7. The application of the principles of rule of law is another advantage of representative government. The government of the day tends to be the government of the people and therefore abides by and applies the principles of rule of law.

Disadvantages Of Representative Government

1. One of the disadvantages of representative government is that the representatives are imposed on the electorate by political parties. Those that are voted to go and represent the people are not chosen by the people but by the political parties and the people have no choice but to vote for them whether they like them or not.

2. Another disadvantage of representative government is that the representatives tend to represent the interest of political parties and not the people. The representatives toe party line bu voting according to the interest and directives of their political parties and not those of the people.

3. Also, election malpractices such as rigging, arson, thuggery, etc. have helped to twist people’s choice in a representative government. As a result, those that sometimes win elections in representative government are not those the people want and voted for.

4. Furthermore, representative government is disadvantageous because it breeds corruption. This makes i possible for charlatans to be voted to represent the people.

5. The dirty politics associated with representative government scares away intelligent and honest people away. This creates room for hooligans, charlatans, lilliputians and never do wells to emerge as people’s representatives.

6. Representative government has another disadvantage of being expensive to run. A lot of money is required to organize elections that sometimes turn out to be a hoax.

7. Also, representative government is disadvantageous because of slow decision making involved in it. This is as a result of a lot of consultation that must be made before decisions are taken.

8. Finally, representative government leads to the election of minority candidate. This is true because the candidate that win the highest votes in a single member constituency may still not score a majority of all the votes cast.

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