Sunday, 4 September 2011

Democracy and good governance are contradictions in terms. Discuss with Examples (Essay)

Democracy is a form of government in which all people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

In a democratic nation, it is the citizens who hold the right to elect their representatives and their governing authorities. According to a common observation, not all the citizens are fully aware of the political scenario in their country. The common masses may not be aware of the political issues in society. This may result in people making the wrong choices during election.

As the government is subject to change after every election term, the authorities may work with a short-term focus. As they have to face an election after the completion of each term, they may lose focus on working for the people and rather focus on winning elections.

Another disadvantage of democracy is that mobs can influence people. Citizens may vote in favor of a party under the influence of the majority. Compelled or influenced by the philosophies of those around, a person may not voice his/her true opinion. The risk of Democracy is a systemic risk.

Good Governance
Governance nowadays occupies a central stage in the development discourse and also considered as the crucial element to be incorporated in the development strategy. Good governance is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable, effective and equitable, and it promotes the rule of law. It ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources.

Governance is about processes, not about ends. However, apart from the universal acceptance of its importance, differences prevail in respect of theoretical formulations, policy prescriptions and conceptualization of the subject itself. Governance as a theoretical construct, separate from the theory of state, is not only in an embryonic stage, but its formulation also differs among researchers depending on their ideological convictions. Policy analysis based empirically on the historical experiences of governance gives prominence to government failures to deliver, leading to propositions for downsizing or rightsizing, while policy prescriptions for good governance take an evolutionary view of the matter questioning relevance of public sector management of certain activities in a changed context.

Good governance is the term that symbolizes the paradigm shift of the role of governments.

One source of this seeming contradiction between “democracy” and “good governance” is the ambivalent attitudes among citizens as to the efficacy of democracy. Examples of good governance without democracy - Dubai, arguably, Singapore, and, specifically, Pakistan; democracy without good governance - India. Because donor organizations have a high priority on “good governance,” recipient governments are expected to be “effective, honest, equitable, transparent, and accountable,”“good governance” includes “democracy.” Clearly, “democracy” alone is not a sufficient cause of “good governance.”

'Good governance' expresses approval not only of the type of government (usually democracy) and its related political values (for example human rights) but also for certain kinds of additional components .Good governance is not 'liberal democracy +'. It does not 'come after' democracy; nor does it exist 'in the shadow' of hierarchy.  For example, the UN Global Compact System of Good Governance 'is a framework for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption'.

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