Democracy lessons from the elections in Britain - ATILLA YAYLA

Democracy lessons from the elections in Britain

The elections were held in the country that in Turkey we call England, but whose name in effect is the United Kingdom/Great Britain. The participation rate in the elections was 66 percent. The Tories received 37 percent of the valid votes taking 51 percent of the seats in the House of Commons and won the right to form the government alone. Are there any lessons to learn from the elections in Britain while Turkey is running towards the election on June 7?

The participation rate of 66 percent in United Kingdom elections is not too deficient for the stable democracies. The participation rates in Western countries are almost usually low enough to doubt the legitimacy of the elections and their consequences. Although the presidential elections had a slight higher participation rate in the U.S., which that has the worst scores in terms of electoral participation, the participation in the House of Representative elections is approximately 50 percent.

Britain, like other Anglo-Saxon countries, implements the simple majoritarian electoral system. The country has divided into as many election regions as the number of representatives and the one who has the highest vote rate gets the seat. If we hypothetically assume that there are four ambitious political parties running, the one who gets 26 percent of votes can become a member of the parliament. This electoral system encourages the two party democracy; it remarkably rewards the party that receives most of the votes. Thus, the Tories collecting 37 percent of the votes in the last elections reached 51 percent of the seats in the parliament. Therefore, it will be able to form the government without needing any other party. The system is more successful in producing stability in governing than it is successful in ensuring justice in representation. Despite the fact that it has been subject to criticisms, the simple majoritarian is still preserved. This picture in Britain reminds us of the following: Democracy is a totality of rules and institutions. With this aspect, it is a game. Its rules are predetermined like every other game. The fact that the players step on the field is an indication of their acceptance of the future consequences or their commitment to those consequences. The change of rules in the middle of the game cannot be requested. After the game is over, the players can neither object to the result nor question its legitimacy.

Democracy is the regime where the majority has a right to govern; which is however, the case on paper. The selections may not always (in effect most of the time) generate majority. That is why; democracy in actuality is the name of the regime where the biggest minority gets the right to vote for a certain period of time. To put it another way, all political actors – parties – come out of the elections as minorities and the most superior among them is the one that is closest to the right to govern. The operations of forming the government proceed in accordance with the degree of superiority of the parties.

Democracy is not the governance by the best. There is no guarantee that the governments that come to power through democratic procedures do and will do the most correct deeds. The serious social problems that this situation might cause are considerably prevented by utterly depoliticizing some areas and by decreasing the area of authority and effect of politics in other areas. Yet, this is the perspective of the liberal theory. More statist theories set their hopes on the right people coming into office rather than restricting the area and authority of the politics.

Another point that draws attention in British politics was the fact that the leaders of the political parties who lost the elections resigned. Without doubt, this cannot be even dreamed of in Turkey. Let alone leaving the office of the leadership by the party leaders in Turkey, their seat gets more guaranteed. There is no reason to doubt this pattern will be repeated this time.

In accordance with this information, we can make some determinations regarding the issue of democracy in Turkey. One of the serious problems of democracy in our country is the disrespectfulness towards the majority's right to govern. The leaders who came to power within the system of democratic tutelage for years were blocked. Pushing the military bureaucracy away, which meant downgrading the structure where the military is at the center and judicial bureaucracy, universities and media articulated to the state constituted the other elements, has eased this problem. However, the attempt for a new bureaucratic tutelage emerged before this regression has become permanent. The desire was to substitute the military with the police, and the right to govern the majority – the biggest minority – was attacked with the intense support of, again, the judicial bureaucracy and a considerable part of the media. This is the essence of the struggle that is currently taking place in our country; the rest is the details that will not change the nature of the event.

The direction to follow for a better democracy in Turkey is definite. The mindset that the elected politician is the chief of bureaucracy should become established and, accordingly, institutionalization should take place. Besides, the area of both the elected government and state should be restricted in favor of the individual liberties and civil society.


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