Exam Focus: the basic principles of representative government

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Exam focus – Keypoint on the basic principles of representative government, political participation, political aparty, constitutionalism, Centralization

 

Representative Government
This is a system of government in which the people through election elect those who will represent and govern the state on their behalf

Features of representative government

  • Periodic election
  • Free and fair election
  • Majority rule
  • Party system
  • Separation of powers
  • Means of guaranteeing people’s right
  • An independent electoral body
  • Existence of opposition party
  • Universal franchise
  • Respect of minority groups.

Means and conditions for the establishment of representative government

  • Organized party system
  • Recognition of opposition
  • A written constitution
  • An independent judiciary
  • Establishment of the electoral system
  • Establishment of universal franchise
  • Rule of law
  • Establishment of fundamental human right.

Merits of representative government

  • It provide the people the opportunity to participate in government.
  • It ensure the election of government of the people- democracy.
  • It applies the principle of check and balances.
  • It prevent tyranny and oppression.
  • It gives the people sense of identity and belonging to the government.
  • Representative government tends to be stable.
  • It applies the principle of rule of law.

Demerits of representative government

  • The representative are imposed on the electorates by political parties.
  • The representatives tends to represent the interest of the political parties.
  • Election malpractice help to twist the choice of the people.
  • Representative’s government breed corruption.
  • The dirty politics associated with representative government scare away intelligent and honest people.
  • Representative government is expensive to run.
  • Slow decision making is involved in representative government.
  • It leads to election of the minority candidates.

 

Political participation
It is the voluntary involvement of the people in the political activities of their country.

Forms of political participation

  1. Belonging to political parties
  2. Contesting in election
  3. Acting as polling agents
  4. As a voter
  5. Sponsoring of political parties
  6. Holding of public offices
  7. Partial participation
  8. Observatory postures.

The purpose of political participation

  1. As a political animal
  2. As a status symbol
  3. Desire fir friendship
  4. For economic and material gains
  5. For equitable distribution of resources
  6. The need for self actualization
  7. To right the wrong of those in power
  8. To take part in the decision making.

 

Political aparty
This refers to the degree to which citizens show no interest in the political activities of their country. It is the direct opposite of political participation.

Factors that cause political aparty

  1. Illiteracy
  2. Sexual discrimination
  3. Religious constraints
  4. The nature of politics played
  5. Racial or tribal segregation
  6. The type of party system adopted.

Ways by which political participation can be enhanced and political aparty discouraged

  1. Multi- party system
  2. Universal adult suffrage
  3. Rule of law
  4. Independent judiciary
  5. Equal political opportunities
  6. Adequate political education
  7. Recognition of opportunities

 

Centralization
The term centralization refers to a system of governmental administration in which power is concentrated on one single central authority. Unitary States like: Britain, Italy, France etc. are examples.

Factors or condition that gives rise to the adoption of centralization of powers

  1. Size of the country
  2. Absence of minority groups
  3. Absence of tribal difference
  4. Political expediency
  5. Lack of fear of domination
  6. Common language and culture
  7. Lack of marked economic inequalities
  8. Strong loyalty to the central government.

Merits and demerit of centralization

Those merits and demerits of unitary system of government discussed in Chapter 4 can also apply for centralization

 

Decentralization
The term decentralization refers to a system of governmental administration in which powers are not concentrated in a single central authority but shared among component, regional and local unit or state distinct from the central government. Federal state are: USA, Nigeria, Germany etc are example

Forms of decentralization

  1. Devolution: This is a system of administration in which semi-autonomous regional government are created with defined powers and functions but subordinate to the central authority.
  2. De-concentration: This refers to a system of administration in which powers are shared in such a a way that the component state are not directly subordinate to the central authority.

Reasons for the adoption of decentralization

  1. Fear of domination
  2. Tribal differences
  3. The size of the country
  4. To expand local market
  5. For security reasons
  6. Desire for union
  7. Geographical proximity
  8. The absence of marked inequalities
  9. Protection of the interest of the minority groups
  10. For rapid and even development
  11. To bring government nearer to the people
  12. For easy and effective government
  13. To create more employment
  14. For diverse laws to be made
  15. Preservation of local independence or autonomy.

Merits and demerits of decentralization

Those advantages and disadvantages of federalism discussed in chapter 4 can equally be taken as merits and demerits of decentralization

 

Constitutionalism
The term constitutionalism means that the powers of government should be defined and limited by the dictate of the body of the fundamental laws of the land known as a constitution. The principle of constitutionalism is not constitution itself but limits government and individual actions and activities according to constitutional restraints.

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