Elections: the echo of your vote

Responsible administration

Elections: the echo of your vote

Elections will be held on May 24 in Spain, June 7 in Turkey and June 23 in Albania. Citizens will have a direct influence in getting good governance. Strangely enough people often vote on parties they loudly criticize in daily discussions. Although citizens in Andalucía complained about corruption as the second most important social issue, in March they voted on the ruling socialistic party. Party leaders are involved in a huge corruption scandal, which a judge has been investigating for more than 4 years. In The Netherlands a politician accused of corruption received many votes as well. Why?

One obvious reason could be that people know the politician personally and/or think they benefit from him directly or indirectly. However, most people recognise the principles and the history of one party and remain loyal to it. New parties that want to combat corruption, have to prove themselves first, for example by demanding an integrity strategy before supporting a new government.

Democracy is more than the voice of the people. Important are independent judges who bring those to trial who are corrupt or abuse power. National and international organizations that promote public integrity and transparency also help. They can do this by capturing traditional parties bit by bit from people who misuse democracy for their own gain and providing education and training for new parties, so that they are able to govern. Setting an agenda takes time in a democracy. Putting integrity on the agenda is a slow process that requires time, perseverance and conspicuous incidents.

Vote for integrity

An inspiring and important incident took place recently in Guatemala, a country in which violence and corruption plague the people. An investigation by the UN Commission against Impunity CCIG found out that officers of the Custom Staff and Tax Department systematically falsified documents. This caused the public treasury to miss out on 60% of the import duties. It seems that the vice-president used the money to buy expensive yachts and apartments in New York and Italy. Thanks to the Commission and public protests by many citizens the Supreme Court investigated the case. Consequence: the vice-president had to resign.

During elections citizens demonstrate their wish for improvement and stability. That message is very valuable for elected politicians. Bases on the trust of the voters they are able to remove the rotten apples in their party directly after elections. Also, they can pick up the many initiatives and ideas coming from society to improve good governance. However, this wish of the citizens also gives weight and legitimacy to civil servants who already work on integrity and good governance programmes.

Henk Bruning

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