Representation Of The People In A Democracy: What Does It Entail?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

If someone was asked about the essence of electing members of the NationalLegislature (the law making body of the country), the person would quickly or instantaneously, without hesitation cite “REPRESENTATION.” That is members of that body were elected, not only to make laws or to have oversight responsibility, but to also represent those who elected them. This means that they are the eyes, ears and noses of the people that went to the poll to repose confidence in them.

Because of this level of representation, this is why that body isreferred to as the Frist Branch of government or the Trustees of the people, indicating that the people rely on them for growth, development and prosperity. Additionally the people look up to them to move them from backwaters to prosperity.

In fact, the three prepositions- of, by and for– in the definition or meaning of democracy clears shows this connection and relationship between the people and their representatives. A preposition “is a word which precedes a noun (or a pronoun) to show the noun’s (or the pronoun’s) relationship to another word in the sentence. (The word preposition comes from the idea of being positioned before.” However, it is said that, “It is not true to say that a preposition always precedes a noun or a pronoun, but it does most of the time.”

Democracy is a system of government in which all the people of a state or politics are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly. Democracy is further defined as (a) “government by the people; especially rule of the majority (b) “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[4] which was found from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (krátos) “power” or “rule”.

For democracy, it is commonly defined as “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

It shows that in democracy, the interest of the people MUST reign supreme. It means that all of the people cannot be in the administrative arena of the government, and so certain individuals are elected to seek the interest of the people or speak on their behalf. Politically, sometimes, this is referred to as a “social contract,” between the people and their elected leaders.”

The Social Contract Theory

Social Contract, according to research, “is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. The research says philosopher Socrates used something quite like a social contract argument to explain to Crito why he must remain in prison and accept the death penalty. However, it is said that social contract theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political theory and is given its first full exposition and defense by Thomas Hobbes. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this enormously influential theory, which has been one of the most dominant theories within moral and political theory throughout the history of the modern West.”

The research states that in the” twentieth century, moral and political theory regained philosophical momentum as a result of John Rawls’ Kantian version of social contract theory, and was followed by new analyses of the subject by David Gauthier and others. More recently, philosophers from different perspectives have offered new criticisms of social contract theory. In particular, feminists and race-conscious philosophers have argued that social contract theory is at least an incomplete picture of our moral and political lives, and may in fact camouflage some of the ways in which the contract is itself parasitical upon the subjugations of classes of persons.

The issue of social contract has been likened to “Marriage, citizenship, and employment which are all forms of contracts. Put simply, a contract is an agreement between two parties. If one party violates the terms of the agreement, the contract is no longer valid.”

Today, I am invoking the issue of social contract to show the obligation of those elected by their people and also the role of those who elect their leaders to making sure that they work together for their common advancement and development. As it is commonly known, a contract is an agreement between two parties for the achievement or accomplishment of specific purpose. And so in the case of representatives and their people, there is a contract for those elected to espouse the interest of their people.

This means that the people elect representatives so that those individuals would represent them for growth and development. In such a contract there is always this, as we say in law, “consideration” something that a contracting party expects to receive. Politically, this “consideration” could be described as something that the electorates expect by electing their leaders. To say a simply, the people expect their representatives to speak on their behalf for those things that are necessary to advance their lives. Such include schools, health facilities, and better roads.

I was inspired to write this piece because of information from Gbarpolu County, the home of the Pro-tempore, Armah Jallah, and other areas on how some students at this time continue to face difficulties in acquiring education. A civil society leader, Sylvester Pewu, who spoke on the issue, also expressed concern on such information from Bopolu, in Gbarpolu, a place also represented in the National Legislature.

Also last week, it was reported by this paper that citizens of Bangorma Town in Grand Cape Mount County are angry over the operation of a mining company that is not fulfilling its social responsibility to the people of that town. These are just of two situations around the country where citizens have blamed their representatives of not really representing them or seeking their interest, especially in situations of concessions that they (citizens) are not really benefitting from. Prior of this paper’s visit to the town, some citizens of Butaw in Sinoe County went on the rampage in the GVL concession area over the delay to address some concerns.

Many times when these concessions fail to live up to expectations, citizens always rely on their representatives and country leaders to intervene, but it seems that those expected to intervene do not really act, thus making the problem to persist. Many times people have expressed disappointment and lack of confidence in those they elected to represent them because these citizens feel that those individuals are not keeping their side of the Social Contract.

I should not be misconstrued as suggesting that it is the work of the Representatives to build bridges, schools, hospitals. But in keeping with the checks and balance system over our democratic dispensation, they are well-situated, in keeping with their “OVERSEIGHT RESPONSIBILITY” to make sure that the interest of their people are highlighted. These concessions are approved by them and that the national budget is scrutinized by them for approval and implementation.

Indeed, those who have been elected by their people to represent them in the government should know that they (representatives) have a greater stake to seeking the interest and welfare of their people. They have to make sure that concessions operating in their areas to do so for the benefit of their people. Yes, as the name, legislature, depicts about lawmaking, it goes beyond that to oversight responsibility and REPRESENTATION.

Therefore, let our Representatives be aware that the people look up to them to bring improvement in their lives and place of residence. Until our Representatives see this to turn the hands of the clock anti-clockwise for the betterment of their people, I Rest My Case!