Electoral Choice and Practice and the Democratic Process in Mozambique

Elections, which constitute the basis of the concept and practice of modern liberal democracies, have a twofold significance: they serve as a tool for legitimating the political regime and they provide the main forum for both political competition and popular political participation. In both cases they help to secure popular control over government – the principal characteristic of a democratic representative system of government (Beetham and Boyle 1995). Modern liberal democracies are basically representative political systems. This amounts to saying that a modern democratic government is legitimate to the extent that it has been constituted through some sort of expressed choice by the bulk of the citizenry. From Locke to Rousseau, from James Madison to Schumpeter, a democratic government is described as one that bears a popular mandate, obtained through several and distinct ways of amalgamating the popular will. To be sure, as Schumpeter and a number of social choice theorists (notably William H. Riker 1982) stress, one important defining feature of modern democracies is that individuals acquire decision-making powers through a competitive struggle for the people’s vote (Schumpeter 1954). This feature links elections with a particular institutional setting, namely that of a multi-party political system. This qualification is relevant because it is possible for elections to take place and political participation to be encouraged outside the realm of modern liberal and representative forms of democratic governments with a view to legitimating a particular political regime. Beetham and Boyle’s ‘democratic pyramid’ encompasses, apart from elections, civil and political rights, a strong civil society and an accountable government, all of which find expression in a well functioning pluralistic political system (Beetham and Boyle 1995).

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: closed PR, electoral system, mixed member proportional (MMP), mixed member proportional representation (MMP), Single Member Plurality (SMP), single transferable voting system (STV)
journal of african elections vol2 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa