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Democracy Produce an Accountable, Responsive and Legitimate Government

  • Last Updated : 12 Jan, 2022

Democracy is universally considered the best type of government. What separates it from other types of government, a democratic government comprises a ruler by people’s choice. In other words, democracy is a form of government based on self-determination. The elected leaders are nonetheless those who receive the majority of public support. The concept of democracy is not just limited to elections. The foundational strength of the type of government that makes it distinctive is its accountability, responsiveness, and legitimacy. The foundation on which democracy is built includes the characteristics which set it apart from other types of government. A democratic state exercises the principle of pluralism – promoting a culture to respond to the wide interests of diverse as well as marginalized groups. Extending support to the aspirations of marginalized groups is imperative to achieve equality and freedom in a democracy.

Democracy Ensure Accountability:

One of the fundamental principles of democracy is its political accountability. This relationship of accountability exists between the voters and the elected politicians. Citizens may ask the state actors to be answerable for certain actions undertaken. The decision-makers who are in the face of the government and Member of Parliaments need to be accountable to the citizens. This is done in order to represent popular public opinions. The Parliament, media, political activists, and pressure groups all play an important role to promote the concept of accountability. The concept of accountability is institutionalized through the following ways;

  • Through Article 19, citizens have the freedom to voice their opinions and interest with limited restrictions, and form independent associations and unions. Citizens may rely on additional sources of information. Article 19(1) of our constitution related to the Right to Information is a fundamental right. This article allows the media and citizens to seek information about the government to reduce the possibility of corrupt practices.
  • In order to enhance accountability, the government also introduced part IX and IXA in the Indian constitution for the establishment of local level governments in rural and urban areas respectively.
  • Article 243 to 243-O delineated Gram Sabha and improved the prospect of democratic and direct decision making in rural areas. Article 243P – 243ZG introduced municipalities in urban areas serving a similar objective. Both of these 73rd and 74th amendment of 1992 opened doors for a more transparent and accountable government

Political accountability is imperative to a successful democracy. It not only provides a space for citizens but also gives an opportunity to improve the prospect of the functioning of government. There are many ways by which the government can showcase that it is accountable. The government should be transparent about its major projects that are in progress. It should strengthen scrutiny over public service works. It should allow opposition and citizens to voice their opinions and confront various policies and programmes.

Democracy Ensure Responsibility:

Democracy establishes a pillar wherein the government is responsible to cater to the needs of people. Decision-making requires discussions and debates and thus it reduces the possibility of undertaking irresponsible actions. Other than this, it produces and institutionalizes various branches which work within their jurisdiction. These intertwined responsibilities are distributed among citizens, the government, and its institutional bodies.  

  • Democratic institutions ensure inclusion and encourage the ideals of universal human rights. The democratically elected party must constantly work towards fostering the importance of democratic rights and education among the citizenry. Article 21A provides for free and compulsory education for children of 6-14 years.
  • The responsibility to protect the fundamental rights mentioned in part III of our constitution lies with the government.
  • The bureaucrats of the system are required to take decisions by managing the tensions and conflicts that may arise in the process. The policymakers frame laws and formulate policies to achieve the goals of social, economic, and political development of the nation including the backward areas.
  • The Parliament has the responsibility to introduce bills. According to Article 110, money bill, a bill related to financial matters, is exclusively introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha is bound to suggest recommendations or allow it to pass within 14 days. An ordinary bill may be introduced in either of the houses and according to the Article 111, after being passed by both the houses of Parliament, it is sent to the President for his assent or approval.
  • The Zero Hour session is conducted in Lok Sabha to discuss and debate recent developments of public importance. The members of Parliament are given a chance to raise an issue and keep a check on limited good governance. Legislators have the responsibility to articulate their views while respecting the democratic ethics of differences and tolerance
  • The freedom of the press allows it to create awareness about the scope of government policies and serves as an important link between citizens and the state.

Inherent to the goal of political justice, lies the goal of equality before the law that all democratic governments may strive to achieve. The sole authority over decision-making is at the hands of those elected by the citizens transparently and democratically. All things considered, the basic responsibility of a government claiming to be democratic is to promote a life of dignity for its citizens. As the civic duty of the right to vote is given to citizens, the civic responsibility to make decisions and be accountable is charged to the government.

Importance of Legitimacy in Government:

Democracy produces a legitimate government. The word ‘legitimacy’ describes the extent of validation received by the rulers from the people they rule over. Legitimacy is a multi-directional concept which thus is not assessed through a single factor.

  • One essential feature in the relationship between democracy and political legitimacy is the election procedure. With respect to Article 324, a democracy ensures free and fair elections, it recognizes the voters and their vote to be politically equal. The ruler in a democracy is based on citizens’ orientation. This important feature of legitimate government also prevents abuse of political power or lack of democratic principles in a nation.
  • A democratic constitution protects and provides remedies against the suspension of any fundamental right of its citizens. For instance, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution provides constitutional remedies for safeguarding individuals’ rights.
  • A legitimate democratic government creates a conducive climate for socially, ethnically and economically divided groups to live cooperatively. In India, the weaker and minorities have been protected under Article 15(4) and Article 16(4). The public perception of legitimacy is verified by the concept of judicial activism.  Article 29 and article 30 talk about the protection of the interest of minorities and their right to establish educational institutions in pursuit of their interests.
  • Article 14 to 17 enlists that all citizens are equal before law, prohibits discrimination based on caste, color, religion etc. and completely abolishes untouchability.

The ultimate test of democratic legitimacy lies in the essence of democratic ideals. Thus, it is the duty of the state to check that the notions of equality, justice, and freedom are upheld in the political atmosphere they tend to create. These notions are safeguarded by constitutional protections. Any sort of illicit practice such as corruption or misconduct among those enjoying power leads to being labeled an illegitimate government. Apart from the extent of transparency, there are many ways to measure the legitimacy of a democratically run government. Legitimacy is also verified by the level of inclusion of varied marginalized groups and minorities.

If a government is accountable to the people and responsible for its actions, it is deemed to be politically legitimate. The principles of rule of law and non-discrimination in the participatory processes should be in spirit. The right of ordinary citizens to take part in managing public affairs and overseeing legislation prevents misuse of power. This right also helps in encouraging efficiency in government actions. The level of efficacy gives rise to a legitimate government that is accepted by the citizens. The principle of burden sharing, making the rule open and responsive helps in improving legitimacy.  

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