Why are elections important in a democracy
Bundestag election 2017
Prof. Dr. Frank Decker, born in Montabaur in 1964, has held a chair for political science at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn since 2001. Since 2011 he has also been Scientific Director of the Bonn Academy for Research and Teaching of Practical Politics (BAPP).
Art. 20 para. 2 GG
- Legitimation function: Elections are indispensable for a democracy and bring back political rule to the will of those who are subject to rule. They secure the control of those subject to rule over the rulers and, through their regular return, guarantee the time limit of political rule, which is essential for democracy.
- Creation function: The political governing bodies emerge from elections, so in a parliamentary democracy a functioning representative body. For its part, it is in a position to set up a functioning government and to make the decisions that are essential for the community.
- Representation function: Elections should ensure that the diverse interests, views and values of the population are reflected in the representative body they have elected.
- Integration function: The population is also integrated into the political system through elections; to this end, the electoral act as such creates a political common ground among the citizens.
A milder version of the criticism complains about the lack of real decision alternatives. The parties would hardly differ in their basic goals and offers to solve problems. At the same time they formed a power cartel wherever their own interests were at stake, for example in party funding. Populism is a reaction to these tendencies.
Empirical studies also indicate a growing social inequality in voter turnout. For example, the proportion of non-voters in the 2013 federal election in the lowest income group was more than five times as high as in the top (39 compared to 7 percent). The younger age groups also only participate below average. From a democratic point of view, this is precarious because it means that the interests of these groups are also given less consideration in the political process: Those who do not vote run the risk of their interests not being represented. For this reason, some authors, such as the political scientist Armin Schäfer, advocate the introduction of compulsory voting.
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