In this assessment task, you will choose a country, and analyse their governance structures according to one or more of the themes that we have covered in the first four weeks of the course. Your analysis may be produced in the form of an academic essay or report. Whichever format you choose, you must use academic resources for your analysis, and your assignment must be fully referenced.
The Role of Liberal Democracy in Protecting Public Interests
Liberal democracy is a type of government that caters to the interests of the majority. This type of government attempts to cater to these interests by having a state that is guided by the principles of all men having equal rights, opportunity, power, and so on. All of the traits above collectively contribute to a society that is considered democratic (Rodrik, 2016). Through these traits, democratic societies allow the public to protect themselves against well-organized special interest because the members of such society can govern and enjoy the liberty of being able to think for themselves, choose their rightful leaders, and entertain their interests. The society in a liberal democracy has to live through the culture of freedom and liberty. Therefore, liberal democracy is a democracy which has both liberty and popular sovereignty, (Diamond, 2017). Civil rights in liberal democracy put restrictions on the existing government. The limits are mostly in the form of institutional or civil society creations that are meant to oversee the government and assist in preventing the government from gaining too much power.
Liberal democracy in Kenya has enabled people to be entitled to their own opinions. This is because all of its citizens are capable of free speech, and are protected by the rule of law. About the research conducted by Soderberg and Bjarnesen (2018), we still live under a system of checks and balances, meaning that the nation survives through subsidiarity and that the different branches of government cannot oversee each other. The relationship of subsidiarity and democratic government is phenomenal, in the sense that the government does its job; which is to govern and the people can think or say anything about the government, but this will not affect the government’s actions. For example, in the Kenyan government, some people hate, and others support President Uhuru Kenyatta. No matter how many intellectual, or “claiming” to be intellectual, political “analysts” or pretending to be analysts, they can say anything about the government. All the citizens have the liberty to speak out what is on their minds, but there is nothing they can do to stop the Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration from doing what they have to. For instance, to fight forms of corruption in Kenya and appointment of different ministers in various sectors without due process, or to withdraw the Kenya Defense Forces from Somalia. The Kenyan president has powers to declare aspects that may pinch those who hate his administration but under control of the law.
The Importance of Wise Leaders in a Liberal Democracy
Therefore, these claiming to be “well-organized special interests” do not affect the public at large because every person or department has a specific role to follow and that is the only thing that they have to do (Burbidge, 2016). For instance, businesspeople are businessmen; doctors are doctors, and so on. In relation, the Kenyan government does its role and what it wants, no matter what the people think of it. Activities such as ensuring countries security against terrorists, Lamu port constructions and rural roads development in different sections of the country are done under the management of top government and not individual’s decisions. The voice of the people is only recognized during the selection of leaders during the general elections. After power has been taken over, the people have no authorities to make but to be fully represented by the government in action. The rulers have been elected through people’s consent, and after all, it is the main purpose of governments to serve the people (Hawkins, 2016). And also, it is inevitable that there are just some existing cancers or toxic people in this Kenya, who only look at the bad side of things and never the good.
Liberal democracy in Kenya protects the public by electing wise leaders. Shabaan18 (2015) illustrates that social order requires wise leaders who are principal determinants of a successful and strong state. The main purpose of Kenyan leaders is to direct citizens towards cooperation and seek peace. In a liberally democratic government, the leaders allow the citizens to do whatever they want as long as they do not harm others. As stated in an article by Wingenbach, “If people are going to be affected by something, they should be able to influence or resist what happens. This doesn't mean everyone gets everything they want. It just means that people's desires should be fairly balanced with the desires of everyone else involved. Any system that ensures that kind of balance-of-power is democratic.” (Wingenbach, 2016). This means that democracies protect equality among citizens. Also, "Legislation should be confined to the administration of justice, for the protection of the equal natural rights of the citizen, and the preservation of the social order. In all respects, the voluntary principle, the principle of freedom affords the true golden rule. From a constitutional perspective, then, equality refers to the equal rights of individuals to be free from interferences affecting their lives, liberties, and estates. (Kivuva 2014).
Moreover, the main point is that in liberal democracies such as Kenya, the leaders are forced to become competent in their field of politics and maintain peace and order in the society because they are accountable for the people who voted them. If they do not do their best, they will not be able to participate in politics again, or their name will have a bad image in the political realm. By having a bad name, it will be passed on to their offspring and future generations. In other types of government like a dictatorship, their leader/s do not feel the same amount of pressure that democracy brings, that is why there is a possibility that they perform worse (Individualist, 2016). The people under a liberal democratic government can choose who is best to represent the country and make decisions on their behalf.
The Rule of Law and Equality Among Citizens
Research conducted by Leon (2017) illustrates that there should be “enough power allocation for the rich and the poor," creating a legal system which imposes sanctions. The rich have the power to sue the poor and vice versa. People are protected by the rule of law which enables them to reach their full potentials. “The rule of law is one of the universal values cherished by humanity today. The reason is simple: without the rule of law, we could be victims of arbitrary decisions at the whims of those who wield power, or those who seek an advantage using unscrupulous means, or those who do not know what fair play is.” (Mukand and Rodrik, 2015). When people are free to do whatever they want as long as they do not hurt other people, they can reach their maximum capabilities because there would not be anything to stop them. For instance, if one wants to start a business, he may do so, if one wishes to become a pilot, he can become one. Considering Hyden (2016) works, one can be against certain illegal action done by a government and have a big position, and he states that “no man is by nature better than the others."
For instance, corruption in Kenya by the top officials is against democratic ideals because it defeats its purpose and equality for all and the will of the majority. However, an objection that can be cited against the freedom given by democracy is income inequality wherein not everyone is blessed with equal opportunities. For example, not all parents have the money to send their kids to private schools/universities. In contrast, everyone can still receive proper education using public schools provided by the government. Not everyone is born rich, but through a democratic government, everyone can become rich. It is just a matter of who wants it more, who works harder, who wants to seize every opportunity given to them, and who is lucky.
In conclusion, liberally democratic societies can protect the majority from a few, special interests because every person has a role in society. Only the government or the state has complete authority through sovereignty which gives it absolute and perpetual power to command without interference. The people give their consent to the rightful leaders. While it is the duty of the leaders to maintain order and good welfare of the many political, economic, and social, etc. issues of the society, the citizens are the ones who determine where they will stand. The interests of some cancers in society do not affect the public at large because after all, it is all up to the chosen leaders to decide on behalf of the majority. Even if there are social divisions among the citizens of the country, anyone is still free to participate in any aspect of life. It is up to every person on whether he/wants is dedicated to reaching his goals. It is about who wants it the most, and his ability to find ways on how he is going to get it. Through liberal democracy, the liberty above to everything is protected unlike other types of government.
Burbidge, D. (2016). The shadow of Kenyan democracy: Widespread expectations of widespread corruption. Routledge.
Diamond, L. (2017). The Crisis of Liberal Democracy. Retrieved from https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/85615/Mershon_Diamond_Presentation_2017-04-10.pdf?sequence=1.
Hawkins, K. A. (2016). Chavismo, liberal democracy, and radical democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, 19, 311-329.
Hyden, G. (2016). Beyond the liberal democracy paradigm: A fresh look at power and institutions. African Studies Review, 59(3), 169-180.
Individualist, T. (2016). The six principles of classical liberalism. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@YeIndividualist/the-six-principles-of-classical-liberalism-97acf8ab9135.
Kivuva J., M. (2014). Liberal democracy and the challenges of multiparty politics in Kenya and Uganda. International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(9), 64-77.
Leon, T. (2017). The state of liberal democracy in Africa. In Culture and Civilization (pp. 31-78). Routledge.
Mukand, S., & Rodrik, D. (2015). The political economy of liberal democracy (No. w21540). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Rodrik, D. (2016). Is liberal democracy feasible in developing countries? Studies in Comparate International Development, 51(1), 50-59.
Shabaan18 (2015). Importance of liberal democracy in developing countries. Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.kenyaplex.com/resources/12015-importance-of-liberal-democracy-in-developing-countries.aspx.
Soderberg K., M., & Bjarnesen, J. (2018). Violence in African elections: between the democracy and Big Man politics.
Wingenbach, E. (2016). Institutionalizing agonistic democracy: Post-foundationalism and political liberalism. Routledge.
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