Ensuring politics truly represents the people and society

To achieve a better and truer democracy, to once again achieve the confidence of all in democracy the most important question is how the people's mandate can get implemented? How to ensure that political parties follow their own promises and do not betray the people who voted them into power?

Because right now the political parties in all countries have no legal obligation to follow their manifesto. Many times we see them going completely against their own promises with impunity. We are electing people and not ideas. Even though we elect leaders or parties based only their ideas, based on the promises they make, the elected leaders have no obligation to implement their own ideas. To rectify this we need to make it legally binding on parties to implement their manifesto exactly as they promised. We need the political parties to present the exact drafts of the laws they are going to enact, the laws they are going to amend. These blueprints need to be submitted to the election commission and also made available to the people so that all may read them and discuss the pros and cons of each and every section of the law. When the parties fail to enact these laws exactly then they should be barred from contesting the next election. The parties in opposition too should abide by their manifesto i.e. they should support only those amendments or laws that exactly match with their manifesto drafts. In this way, we can ensure that the parties implement the people's mandate thus ushering in true democracy.

At this moment this is a pretty harsh demand to make of politicians and parties. Because the parties and their activities are privately funded. We must realise that parties have not only the election expenditures but also expenditures for all the time in between. First and foremost they have to ensure the livelihood of all their activists and leaders. No one is paying them any salary. They also have various other organisational expenditures unrelated to those of elections. So the election commission should ensure that the parties stay truly independent and to do this we need state funding of all political activities. Not just elections but all the activities of the political parties including the salaries of the members. Private funding should be banned. No one should fund any political party that seeks to contest elections.

There should be fixed amount, say out of the real GDP, that is allocated to the functioning of the parties. The election commission can then allocate to parties based on their performance in the election i.e. the percentage of votes a party gets is the same percentage they get from this fund for the next 5 years. We can work out many mechanisms but the main goal is state funding of parties and political parties and removing any outside interference in the functioning of the political parties. The leaders of the parties can be allowed large incomes in the same way the CEOs and others of private companies earn.

This, of course, means that we need laws to regulate the internal functioning of the parties. Just like we have laws to regulate the functioning of the corporations and to audit their activities. The election commission should monitor the parties and their functioning.

Finally, we need to ensure a single view or ideology gets elected by the people to get implemented. What we are talking about is to ensure that a party gets clear-cut majority in both the houses to implement the mandate of the people. We should also ensure that the election cycle doesn't keep going on forever giving no time for the government to implement any “difficult” reforms. Only when a party can get a clear cut majority in the legislative bodies can we ask them to implement their manifesto exactly. We can implement a proportional system in place of the plurality based system that we have now which does nothing to reflect the opinions of the people and is everything about electing individuals rather than electing policies. If no party gets at least 50% of the votes, which is usually the case we can conduct a second round between the two largest parties. We can add some additional seats to give to the winning party so that they have the majority as per the votes they get in the final round whilst the other parties get seats only according to their share in the first round. The upper house can also be added seats appropriately for the appropriate amount of time, like two years or one year, so the winning party has the same majority in both the houses. 


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