Why meaningful participation in election matters?

photo by: Umakanta Khanal
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The term ‘election’ in general, reminds us leaders, geography, authority, ballot, citizens and so on. Under the umbrella of such collectivity, we forget to individualize “a voter”. Having prevailed the mind with such collective image of election, are not we devaluing self ? S. C. White writes, “while participation has the potential to challenge patterns of dominance, it may also be the means through which existing power relations are entrenched and reproduced”. So, its high time to look into oneself and keep ourselves at the heart of electoral process as a sovereign voter.

Election as mechanism to determine ruler through various means and process has the long history. But, the first modern election adhering to basic principles is considered US presidential election held in 1789. So far as Nepal is concerned, the election of Kathmandu Municipality in BS 2004, Jestha has been marked as the first modern election. Since then Nepal has undergone through numerous elections of various forms namely Municipal, Panchaayat, General, Referendum, Constituent Assembly, Presidential, Provincial and Federal. However, with the promulgation of The constitution of Nepal 2015 AD, we are approaching towards 2nd parliamentary election, the 8th in total so far.

Having endorsed various systems and leaders through several elections mentioned above, the citizen seems tired of experiments. But, it’s the appropriate time to individualize self and exercise the supreme power of sovereign citizen.

Having endorsed various systems and leaders through several elections mentioned above, the citizen seems tired of experiments. But, it’s the appropriate time to individualize self and exercise the supreme power of sovereign citizen. In doing so, we perhaps, find ourselves either ignoring or neglecting our inherent democratic right to choose the representatives. Election is the legal and authorized process to validate one’s own representative ensuring every citizens’ participation in the government. As such, participation in election is not limited to ballot box, but is demarking the future nationwide approving the leader to rule and as Aristole sated we must be aware that they should rule who are able to rule the best.

Nonetheless, mere presence to ballot box does not ensure the ‘citizen power’. Sherry R. Arnstein incredibly mentions eight different levels of participation. The eight levels from the bottom – up are Manipulation, Therapy, Informing, Consultation, Placation, Partnership, Delegated Power and Citizen Control. Among these eight levels, the first two from bottom up, Manipulation and Therapy, are the stage of nonparticipation and the next three levels, Informing, Consultation and Placation are the stage of tokenism while the three upper levels, Partnership, Delegated Power and Citizen Control, fall under the stage of Citizen Power.

At the end, election is not only the right to choose representatives but equally a duty to race out wrong candidates. And, as a citizen are we being just present or tokenized or participating meaningfully, exercising citizen power is the most significant affairs of the day “today” dated November 20.


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