Election in a democratic setting is a drive of people’s behaviours in the negative or in the positive. Various gladiators are immune with political strength to get their way at all cost without anyone consciously or unconsciously considering the political nitty gritty of economic growth; every interested party wants the citizens to see him or her as a saint prior to the contest while nursing animosity to ‘deal’ with the electorates on getting to the top by sheepishly frustrating the economy he swears to protect. While a good number of elected leaders have made the governed to think from the dream world, others have drawn a rubicon at which point the ones touted ‘owners’ of power can cross for self aggrandizements.
Meanwhile, political democracy is a means for the people to choose their leaders and to hold their leaders accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. The people decide who will represent them in any position, and who will head the government at the national and local levels. They do so by choosing between competing parties in regular, free and fair elections based on the consent of the governed.
In a democracy, the people are sovereign; they are the highest form of political authority. Power flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily, but today how many elected leaders understands the importance of the people who give power?
An all inclusive and performing government must and should base its policies on economic democracy or stakeholder democracy. It is a socio-economic philosophy that proposes to shift decision-making power from corporate managers and corporateshareholders to a larger group of public stakeholders that includes civil servants, private workers, customers, market women, keke operators, suppliers, neighbors and the broader public. No doubt, in political democracy, power of a state is equally shared by the citizens; the people have the real power to legislate, which they perform by delegating this function to their elected representatives.
The people should not be confused between right to do any job i.e. (political penchant) and economic democracy. These are totally different things. Good Governance is political, social and economic democracy. It is often considered to compare ineffective economies or political bodies with viable economies and political bodies. The concept centers on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups in society. It standards often measure other state institutions against these states.
Good Governance is simply the processes for making and implementing decisions. Making the best possible process for making those decisions is important rather than taking the correct decisions. It has several characteristics. All have a positive effect on various aspects of local government including consultation policies and practices, meeting procedures, service quality protocols, councilor and officer conduct, role clarification and good working relationships.
Today, after the collapse of “actually existing socialism”, most self-styled elected leaders have abandoned any vision for a marketless, stateless, non-capitalist society and identify economic democracy with the enhancement of “civil society” within the context of “radical” democracy.
Furthermore, they do not propose any dialectical tension between the nation-state and civil society. The enhancement of the latter has nothing to do anymore with the process of withering away of the former, but it solely aims to counterbalance or just check the state’s power, within a market economy system. In other words, the vision of a socialist planned economy, to emerge after a transition period, has simply been abandoned by most public office holders.
For the Inclusive democracy project, economic democracy has to imply the abolition of economic power relations. Thus, if political democracy is the authority of the people in the political sphere which implies the existence of political equality in the sense of equal distribution of political power, then economic democracy is the authority of people in the economic sphere, which means the existence of economic equality in the sense of equal distribution of economic power.
And, of course, we are talking about the people and not the state, because the existence of a state means the separation of the citizen body from the political and economic process.
Economic democracy therefore relates to a social system which institutionalises the integration of society and the economy and may be defined as an economic structure and a process which, through direct citizen participation in the economic decision-taking and decision-implementing process, secures an equal distribution of economic power among citizens. This means that, ultimately, the people control the economic process, within an institutional framework of demotic ownership of the means of production.
But what are seeing today, is this a true reflection in participatory democracy in Nigeria and states? The unfortunate representatives have wickedly made themselves gods in the society without remembering the importance of the people who laboured to vote them.
In my sub-conscious mind, i have always asked why do election seekers willingly and knowingly overpromise? Because there is a truly enormous incentive to overpromise in order to win the election. Perhaps there is no immediate penalty for doing so. The penalty, which would be to lose the reelection, will come only four (4) years later, after one has recklessly raided the taxpayers’ money.
It is a known fact that if one overpromises, one will under-deliver. Fortunately, over-ambitious position seekers always say that voters have short memories may continue to play out for their exploits.
For the avoidance of doubt, Campaign promises may change slightly from election to election, but they are almost always related to changing current issues that are on the minds of voters. Some may be ideological in nature, like “implementing governmental fiscal responsibility,” or more specific, like proposing precise cuts for tax rates per person. However they are proposed, there are promises that are credible and reasonable and those that are just shots in the dark. Cheers!