PORT MORESBY - Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech captured the essence of democracy. Democracy, he said, is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
In democratic societies, the people have the right to vote and elect their leaders. The democratic form of government was conceived as a revolt against the monarchical governments that controlled much of Europe and suppressed the people to servitude.
So democracy was established as an alternative to oligarchy.
According to British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, real democratic process comes to play when “the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper, without intimidation.”
In a democratic society, the people choose their representatives without fear or favour. When an electoral process is transparent, an election is deemed authentic.
To defend democracy and the rule of the law, the Allies fought tooth and nail to defend the onslaught of Nazism during the World War II. Millions of courageous man and woman lost their lives to fight for freedom and democracy when totalitarian ideology wanted to dominate the world.
After the horrific results of the war, nations better understood the importance of human dignity, freedom and progress and generally agreed to a democratic system of government to protect these ideals. A few nations like Russia, China and some others continued to favour a totalitarian system.
Today, to maintain, a robust democracy, the pillars of democracy must be upheld. Free and fair elections must continue to be cornerstone of democracy, where the citizens to express their political preferences by choosing their governments.
According to Transparency International, in many countries, particularly those where democratic institutions are weaker, corruption poses a serious threat to the legitimacy of electoral processes and outcomes.
There are three fundamental ways in which electoral integrity can be undermined - through vote-buying, abuse of state resources and election rigging.
The 2017 Papua New Guinea election was reckoned by many people, including international observers, as a failed election due to the many anomalies that transpired.
To maintain a vibrant democracy, there must be an even playing field for all candidates to allow a free fair election. The democratic processes are the moral guardrails that keep a democratic society functioning.
When egotistical leaders circumvent the democratic process for selfish reason, we bring in a reign of anarchy and chaos. We have a choice a nation in young democracy, to play by rules, to perpetuate democracy or invite mobocracy and destroy our young nation.
Vote-buying occurs when a politician or party provides favours (such as access to public services, resources or preferential treatment) to voters in exchange for consensus, political support, and commitment to vote.
Abuse of state resources can encompass any use of publicly owned resources that affects the financing of political parties or of elections in such a way as to favour one party or candidate at the expense of other contestants.
Examples of the abuse of state resources range from the use of regulatory power to alter elections laws in favour of a political party or candidate, to the use of government-owned infrastructure and state resources including personnel for election campaign purposes and the manipulation of media.
Election rigging, on the other hand, consists in manipulating electoral outcomes through corrupt practices such as ballot-stuffing, misinforming voters, false recording of votes, manipulations of voter’s register and/or manipulation of demographic information (such as altering constituency boundaries).
The foundation of all democracy is that the people have the right to vote. To deprive them of that right is to make a mockery of all the high-sounding phrases so often used.
Democracy is that little man walking into the little booth with a little pencil making a little cross on a little bit of paper.
No amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly palliate the overwhelming importance of that. The people have the right to choose representatives in accordance with their wishes and feelings.