Election in Citizenship Education: Overview, Processes & Function of Electoral Bodies in an Election

What is Election?

Election can be defined as the process or means through which the electorates choose their representatives for the legislative and executive positions in the state. Election is a contest between competing political parties, groups or individuals seeking to seize governmental powers. Indirect democracy became imperative as a result of the impossibility of direct representation in the modern states.

The Various Processes of an Election

  • The Setting up of an electoral commission
  • To hasten justice, an electoral tribunal may also be set up to adjudicate on election complaints
  • Electoral Acts: Rules and regulations are established to govern the conduct of election, such as eligibility of voters/candidates, organization of parties, the voting system, etc
  • Registration of political parties
  • Planning and logistics, delimitation of constituencies, election materials, etc
  • Registration of voters
  • Display of voters register
  • Launching of political campaigns
  • Conduct of elections
  • Filing of election petition
  • Election results

Functions of Political Parties

Although, political parties are defined by a central function (the filling of political office and the wielding of governmental power), there impact on the political system is substantially broader and more complex. There are dangers generalizing the functions of political parties.

Nevertheless, a number of general functions can be identified. The main functions are as follows.

  • Representation
  • Elite formation and recruitment
  • Goal formation
  • Interest articulation and aggregation
  • Socialization and mobilization
  • Organization of government

Representation

This refers to capacities of parties to respond to and articulate the views of both members and the voters. In the language of systems theory, political1 parties are major inputting’ device that ensures that government heeds the needs and wishes of the larger society.

Elite Formation And Recruitment

Parties of all kinds are responsible for providing democratic states with their political leaders. In most cases, parties provide a training ground for politicians equipping them with skills, knowledge and experience which may be found useful in governance.

Goal Formation

Parties have traditionally been one of the means through which societies set collective goals. They play this role because, in the process of seeking power, they formulate programs of government (through conferences, conventions elections manifestos and so on) with a view of attracting popular support.

Interest Articulation And Aggregation

In the process of developing collective goals, parties also help to articulate (express) and aggregate (combine) the various interests found in the society. They develop vehicles through which business; labour, religious, ethnic or other groups advance or defend their various interests.

Socialization and Mobilization

Through internal debate and discussion, as well as campaign and electoral competition, parties engage in political education and socialization. The issues parties choose to focus on help to set the political agenda, and the values and attitudes that they articulate become part of the larger political culture.

Organization of Government

Parties help in the formation of government. Parties give government a degree of stability and coherence, especially if the members of the government are drawn from a single party. Parties also facilitate cooperation between the two major branches of government, the legislature and the executive. They also provide in comparative system, a vital source of opposition and criticism both inside and outside of government.

Roles Played By Political Parties in an Election

Political parties play very important roles in an election. These roles include the following:

  • Political parties provide machinery for recruiting political leaders
  • Political parties help dramatize politics and this keeps the nation politically alive.
  • They help bring about smooth change of government.
  • They help unite the people on major issues affecting the state.
  • They enable the government become accountable to the electorate through constructive criticisms of government in power.
  • They serve as link between the people the government.

Functions of Other Agencies in an Election

1. The Nigerian Police force

The function of the Nigeria police force include the maintenance of law and order, the protection of lives and property and the enforcement of all laws and regulations made by the Federal and State governments as well as Local government authorities responsible for ensuring peaceful atmosphere and tranquility for the smooth conduct of election. They deal with acts of hooliganism, thuggery, etc.

2. The Mass Media

The mass media serve as the conduit for channeling alternative in national issues advanced by each and every political party. In countries where political parties enjoy some measures of autonomy, the mass media (radio, print media) could critique the policies and programmers of political parties and the personalities of party candidates.

The media keep the electorates update about the conduct of election as and when they are released by electoral officials.

3. The Election Petition Tribunal

The tribunal sits over election petitions. Election may be petitioned on the grounds of a candidates not qualified to be elected at that time the election was conducted for reasons of corrupt practices, that the candidate was at the time of election, not duly elected by majority, etc

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