Political participation can be seen through a significant number of voluntary activities. The public undertakes these activities to influence lawmakers to change their public policy or become lawmakers themselves. This political participation is vital to entrenching democracy as it helps those directly affected by policies to speak up. Voting in elections is often viewed as the most basic civic duty that a citizen can perform. Political participation, however, also refers to events such as political campaigns, donating money to candidates or causes or contacting public officials. An active citizenry that participates in politics regularly petitions, protests, and collaborates with lawmakers to improve the living standards of the general populace.
Legitimacy for Public Institutions
A nation’s leaders can govern better with the democratic legitimacy provided by a majority of the citizen’s participation in political activities. Institutions operate with a relationship that is closely linked with citizens. When there is a big voter turnout for civic duty, there is likely to be improved reputations for public bodies. When the three branches of government are held accountable by public participation, it breeds increased opportunities for active citizenship. Active citizenship helps create effective information dissemination and better dialogue.
Greater Social Cohesion
Citizens working together in performing their civic duty is a valuable way to bridge the gap caused by social capital. When the country is more tolerant of diverse views, there is an opportunity to bring hostile communities together. When marginalized groups combine with majority groups to speak on issues that affect them, it helps build relationships within social groups. The result is a strong network that allows the diverse public to create more positive relationships based on a better knowledge of each other’s issues. The increased equality in access to political participation breeds policy and decisions that are in the best interests of the whole society.
Improved Service Delivery
Government projects and programmes are vital to establishing the required infrastructure for improved socio-economic living standards. When genuine politicians with the entire community’s best interests at heart are elected, public service investment will occur. The expressed needs of the community are more likely to be met. The accountability brought about through political participation helps to reduce management and maintenance costs. A society that feels heard is less likely to suffer from crimes like vandalism and property misuse. With better governance through a legitimately chosen office, citizens may develop a sense of ownership of their community. This feature means they will complement and assist governments, therefore, enabling faster and easier decisions. Reducing conflict is a critical advantage that promotes democratic trust through better communication. This shared responsibility among citizens will contribute to the improvement of their quality of life.
More excellent Capacity Building and Learning
Many citizens are unaware of the boundaries and limitations of different public bodies. Improved awareness of public institutions and their operations will enable citizens to access those services better. This process helps to promote confidence and optimism in the citizenry. Civic participation is a vital method of encouraging support for capacity building in specific interest groups. This method is beneficial for making disadvantaged and excluded groups feel capacitated to participate in political activities.
To achieve sufficient representation, there must be widespread public participation in politics. A broadly representative sample will ensure that the marginalized groups of society are not ignored. The population of the affected public can become apathetic when the voices representing them are not associated with them. These public individuals will often be out of touch and unable to accurately cater for the issues faced by societies different to theirs.
Public participation in politics is a valuable way of bringing concerns to the public. Mass support for problematic events can help get the message to the relevant decision-makers. This type of public participation will give society a voice in the outcome of the problem.
Timelines & Realistic Legal Milestones
Lawmakers acting hastily may not understand the practical situation on the ground. These individuals may introduce legislation that citizens cannot cope with. Public participation in politics is essential to help suspend unjust laws or help to manage implementation deadlines throughout the process.
A thriving political participation culture will help to indoctrinate the young generations into political activities earlier. This involvement is key to sustaining the culture and governance systems associated with democracy. Having young voices ensures a fresh perspective of incoming active citizens in the planning process for lawmakers.
Cost of Political Participation
There are costs associated with the public participating in political activities. Aspiring candidates often have to budget for staff expenses, consultants, nomination fees, campaign administration, venue hire, newsletters and flyers.
Public participation in civic duties can be very time-consuming. This activity requires months and sometimes years of work. This time contribution by participants often renders them unable to work or spend time with their families. These individuals have to spend time travelling around meeting voters to garner support. Studying and perfecting the presenting and persuading skills needed to run for office takes time.
Participating in political activities can bring a significant amount of stress, uncertainty and conflict to an individual. There will be numerous voices that do not agree with the candidate’s views, which will require a high level of political tolerance.