What makes an election democratic?

Elections can be held in many ways. All democratic countries hold elections. But most non-democratic countries also hold some kind of elections. How do we distinguish democratic elections from any other election? We have discussed this question briefly in Chapter 1. We discussed many examples of countries where elections are held but they can’t really be called democratic elections. Let us recall what we learnt there and start with a simple list of the minimum conditions of a democratic election:

■ First, everyone should be able to choose. This means that everyone should have one vote and every vote should have equal value.

☐ Second, there should be

something to choose from. Parties and candidates should be free to i contest elections and should offer some real choice to the voters.

Third, the choice should be offered at regular intervals. Elections must be held regularly after every few years.

Fourth, the candidate preferred by the people should get elected.

Fifth, elections should be conducted in a free and fair manner where people can choose as they really wish.

These might look like very simple and easy conditions. But there are many countries where these are not fulfilled. In this chapter we will apply these conditions to the elections held in our own country to see if we can call these democratic elections.

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