The democratic process is typically switched on its operational mode by the voice of the electorate reflected through constitutional compulsion of electing democratic representatives by electorate’s mandate. The electorate enjoys absolute sovereignty to voice their support through ballots. Any believer in democracy wholeheartedly respects the mandate given by the people. Once the electorate properly exercises the prerogative, most suitable and competent leaders are seated into power. However, things always do not appear in the way as per expectation. Definitely, some insidiously dangerous motivations and factors manipulate and influence their choosing option and which is why low-profile and incompetent leaders often emerge on the democratic scene. Illiteracy, prejudices, superstitions or any sort of material benefits, communal insularity, coterie interests happen to be some of the most prominent motivations and factors making the electorate Frankenstein-like victims of their own choice.
Before any discussion regarding electorate’s role and right, we have to keep in mind the difference between liberty and licence. Electorate’s right to choose leaders through their mandate is, in no way, a product to be sold or exchanged. Clearly, it is inalienable and indivisible prerogative meant to be used at full liberty in the most judicious way without any fear and favour. Once the electorate exercise their liberty injudiciously at their own sweet will, liberty will turn into license and there will not have been the slimmest chances of selecting quality leaders.As far as the democracies in the developing countries are concerned, the electorate typically chooses the leaders in the sentimental and impulsive fashion and passion. Some vivid reasons are clearly there behind their irrational behaviour in the most serious business. First, the overwhelming majority of the electorate is not properly educated and which is why they are usually not enlightened. It is actually enlightenment where wisdom comes from. Wisdom happens to act as the real decisive factor in picking up the best possible leaders from among the available options. Formal education is undoubtedly very important in becoming a conscious voter; yet a number of other considerations like comparative mindset, unprejudiced outlook, rational thought process and above all an open-ended attitude are to be reckoned equally. Mere institutional degrees and certificates cannot always warrantee the mentioned determinants of enlightenment.
Prejudice is a crucially prominent factor that needs to be treated specially so as to understand the psychology of the electorate in many developing countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and many other Asian and African countries. The most dangerous spin-off effect of prejudice is that it disarms the electorate’s sense of rational decision to opt for the best possible leader once the leader goes against their pre-conceived impression they receive subconsciously from their closest pet surroundings. When the society happens to be a deeply-divisive one, prejudice naturally finds it as the most fertile nurturing bed. Another negative manifestation of prejudice is its undying continuity through generations. Once the grandfather voted in favour of a particular political party this favouritism transmits back into the grandchildren via the parents. This is why which prevents the third generation from choosing the most suitable leader once the concerned leader belongs to the party other than the one they cling to.
Through awakening the dormant reasoning faculty, one can successfully overcome the prejudiced narrowness that perennially and blindly chains him/her to the allegiance of a set party. With the rapid promotion of science and technology-based education, it is expected that the prejudiced electorate can successfully free themselves from the slavery of blind narrowness. At the same time, equal emphasis has to be given for further expansion and extension of liberal education. When these two complementary phenomena coincide together, a change for the better will surely ring in our inner psyche.
Science and liberal education, if allowed to work together, the tendency for comparative study will automatically develop among the electorate leading them to study the individual profiles and the track records of the aspiring leaders. After all assessments and calculations uninfluenced by preconceived notions and ideas, the majority of the electorate will make the right choice. As soon as partisan biases overweigh the personal credentials and qualifications in the leadership choosing process, qualitative change in the leadership can hardly be brought about. The toughest and almost near-impossible change is surely the attitudinal shift of the electorate. I firmly believe that among all catalysts of change needed to mend electorate’s tabooed attitude, a congenial environment designed and patterned by both scientific and liberal education with an unimpeded freedom in expression of opinions and views is all the more important one.
An overwhelming majority of the electorate happens to be poor and unenlightened and which is why they easily succumb to any material temptations. As long as the power of money will influence the voters to the limit, any positive change in their attitude is an impossible task. Being an optimistic person, I do believe that it is the influence of science-based and liberal education that can obviously help the poor electorate to overcome their natural limitation to a great extent. I have already felt a passion of change for the better in the new generation and I have the least doubt that on being the part of the electorate, they can certainly bring a qualitative change in leadership.
Finally, communal insularity pinches holes in the attitudinal texture of the electorate. This diehard virus by its very destabilising nature jolts reversely the balance of healthy choosing intention of the voters. Aggression and intrusion of communal venom and vitriol are very rife especially in the sub-continental political landscape since colonial days. It is quite a good message that many enlightened voters have peeled off their communal garb by their journey through the process of enlightenment in a series of favourable institutions.In the context of the global promotion of values like humanity, liberalism, altruism as practising codes and tenets it can be reasonably hoped that choosing practices of the electorate will take the turn in favour of the most suitable candidates in the days not far away.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School & College. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org