Parliament and democracy in 21st centu ry
Our current system should be least acceptable to manipulation and needs to be strengthen to ensure that the electorate views are listened.
By Marriam Mubashar
A conflict we face today is that we assume Democracy as the best setup of government whereas in many countries Parliament, as the supreme legislative institution is not sinking in with the concept of Democracy leading to a crisis situation in the state. The question arises whether such a political setup is able to establish true democracy and are such parliaments producing a parliamentary democratic setup representing the voice of people. Democracy is a global value that does not belong to any nation or state (2005 UN World Summit) but it is the parliament of the state that plays a central role in forming a systematic account of democracy in the state. The key elements of parliament like Representation, Transparency, Accountability, Accessibility and Effectiveness guide towards a true democratic system in practice. In the changing world order many parliaments have become more responsive and open towards their electorates. They are experimenting new ways of engaging with the public, including the civil society in legislation, being more inclusive in their manner of working with relation to minorities, exercising more effective oversight of the executive branch and through more active participation of parliamentary component in regional organizations especially in the resolution of violent conflicts.
The twenty-first century has witnessed a paradox that has established democracy as an ideal political institution but on the other hand it has also experienced disillusionments that explain the contrast between what was promised and what actually has come about. This paradox is directly addressed by the functioning and working of the parliament and it varies from state to state. It is the parliament that holds the responsibility of embodying the will of the people and taking measures through which democracy shall prevail. It is the elected body that is completely accountable to people. The question arises what the contributions are made by parliament in protecting and promoting the democratic culture because it is widely acknowledged as the main institution of Democracy. In the past many attempts have been made to analyze and measure the quality of democracy and it was concluded that true democratic principles cannot be established without appropriate political institutions and practices. But on the same time the working of Democracy can not only be measured by the efficiency of parliament it also requires the effort of people because as Abraham Lincoln defines it as the: Government of the People, By the People, and For the People’’. The functioning of a democratic parliament is based on the people availing new opportunities over time to influence the legislative activities of parliament. Along with public participation, the parliaments are seeking actively to respond to the challenges of present age.
In the twenty-first century democracy is a considered the best tool for governance and it is, but the problem with the current parliamentary democracy is not the institutional framework. It is the political role of members elected to represent the people. Apparently the members are elected on representative basis but what kind of representation is practiced when the members of parliament do not value your consent throughout their tenure. Even if some MP’s want to consider the will of general public they are controlled by Party leadership, self-interests, financial or political interests, manipulation again by their political party or external pressures. This is one of the major flaws in democracy that the true spirit of a democratic parliament: Representation is over shadowed by factors highlighted above. Secondly the representatives are under interest by their financial backers to vogue in their personal interests instead of electorate especially when the elections are becoming more expensive to run. Democracies also suffer through apathy where people know that they have no input into the national decision making process and therefor they completely disengage from politics resulting in with almost half of the population not voting in the elections. Such practices lead to a subject and parochial political culture in a state where majority is either unaware of the political practices and the part of population that is aware of the governmental system is not allowed to do so, hence the people find it difficult how to influence the working of the political system that causes flaws in the parliamentary democracy directly affecting its roots.
Our current system should be least acceptable to manipulation and needs to be strengthen to ensure that the electorate views are listened and representatives do just that: represent us