Democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people. One of the most important areas of the democratic process is the election of representatives who make laws and form government to rule over the people. Often elections are held in a periodic exercise of democratic process. They define the quality and strength of a democracy. They are meant to actualise people's own rule by them and for them. But are these elections free and fair? Do people really have the freedom to choose the right persons to occupy positions of authority over them?
In many cases elections are only farcical exercises as the political parties nominate their candidates, not on merit and efficiency, but on the basis of party loyalty, money power and influence. Candidates are often tainted with corruption and criminal records. The criterion in thrusting them over to the people is anything but their moral stands, their integrity and their work for the development of the masses. The voters in such cases are forced to choose the lesser evil.
As election times approaches, parties and candidates mesmerise the voters with false promises which are forgotten once the election is over. They also resort to false propaganda and mislead people. The voters are taken for a ride by these parties and are made to dance according to their tune.
In some cases, elections are held only to perpetuate authoritarian, corrupt and despotic rule. The leaders declare elections with much hype and 'manage' them to make sure no other candidate wins the election. Kenya and Ivory Coast are the most recent examples such blatant butchery of democracy.
But in spite of all the flaws it has, democracy is the best option before us and electoral process is the backbone of any democracy. Even if we do not have a realistic choice, we are nevertheless duty bound to vote for the best candidate as it is our sacred duty. We need to exercise this right with utmost responsibility and as a sense of duty because this is the only way we can participate in our own governance. As the election approaches and as parties project their candidates, it is important that we examine the candidates' past records in legislature if they have any, in social service and in their stand for justice, truth, decency, integrity and morality, and vote for the best available candidate.