In general democracies are centered on political parties which operate at the representative level. In fact, governments exist in such a manner that state government is mostly party supported or dominated. Parties serve as the vehicles through which representative earn positions in the governance of a state and its municipalities or political regions. In additional, political party affiliation goes hand in hand with the notion of governance as being representative democracy. It is thus apparent that political parties are a fundamental part of the development and effective realization of democracy (Brenton 2015)
Political party theorists argue that political parties are indeed crucial entities of democratic governance. James Bryce acknowledges that political parties are quite inescapable in a democratic context. No democratic country can function without them. The modern democracy era is unthinkable without political parties. Thus, party-government is a definite reality and quite central in reference to the governance and progression of political parties. Party governance dominates the manner of governance in state affairs such that the policies administered through the parliament are an expression of the major political party or rather the governing party (Miragliotta, Errington, & Barry, 2013). In addition, appointed individuals from the governing parties also constitute the constitution of the ministerial cabinet such that state affairs are virtually a result of party leadership and decisions from the top to the grassroots level (Brenton 2015).
Although political parties are normative in the operation of modern representative democracy, they are however experiencing negligible change especially in developed and established democracies. In established democracies the citizens of a country are more inclined to personal concerns and less concerned with political party affiliation in general. In modern democracies, political parties are less of significance in develop countries unlike in the early years of democratic representative governance. Party member is quite a trivial issue and systems of governance are associated with individual aspirant or leaders such as the head of state. For instance, the US government today is referred to as the Obama Administration whilst the modern Australian government is referred to as the Tony Abbots government and not the Democrats government or the Labour Government respectively (Brenton 2015).
An analysis of the representative democracy can be narrowed down to the electoral systems comparison and its relation to the institutional levels of governance that is the senate, the parliament and the senate and the ministerial cabinet. The role of political parties in the twenty-first century governments is a transformational tool in their pivotal role to define a linkage for the representative process and facilitating (Miragliotta, Errington, & Barry, 2013). The scholarly attention to this issue- organizational governance- is how the electorate can keep the political executive accountable. As for parliament, it is agreeable that the operation of the executive government has evolved since the early years of the federal government. The pile of workload that ministers handle has only but increased over the years, this has been at the expense of their reducing responsibility to parliament. Thus, they are less under scrutiny and less answerable to parliament. The rules governing the political system somehow integrated into the constitution and the executive arm of the government (Herbert, 2003).
However, the government fails in the implementation of these integrated rules, especially the ministerial functions of the government. Democratic accountability of the government does not directly reflect on the roles and responsibilities of the representatives as provided for in the capacity of parliament, senate and the executive level of government. The democratic power cannot be effectively balanced in the case of imposing a limit to the executive. The actions of the executive that is, the prime minister, the ministers are not directly liable to failure in executing actions; it is such complexity in achieving accountability for liberal elements of democracy that make it difficult to hold the democrat ice representative capacity of the executive accountable (Brenton 2015).
In most countries, as is the case of Australia, the upper house which is subordinate to the lower house is subject to stipulated terms that are made by a higher house that is the senate, which are symbolically a hierarchy of representation. Thus, it follows one house, is secondary to another. In particular, one house is superior to the one below it and they operate in such a reactive manner. This chain of representation takes power higher and further from the people or rather the electorate (Brenton 2015). For instance, the house of representatives, referred to as the second chamber is reactive to the upper house that is senate and so is the case for the house of review which is subject to the terms of the house of the government. The outcome is such that, the superior house has power and a mighty hand in the course of events in which an aversion of a decision or non-ascension to an issue results in a down-spiral that outlaws or cancels the consent of the lower house or reverts it to a fresh tabling and review (Brenton 2015).
The reality of bicameral representation, is that the house of representatives, which is closer to the electorate is much more an implication of the real custodians of power as implied by the reference given by its name. The house of representatives is thus the voice of the people through its mandate to contend activities of the senate such that its practice has a perspective of inequality in a representative capacity (Miragliotta, Errington, & Barry, 2013). The case of Australia is unique given its remarkable structure of the senate and unlike any other Westminster-derived upper house and the parliament form of democracy. In this case, the senate has the power to undermine government and cut down on its budgetary authority which is likely to cause a crisis since the budget process is constitutionally meant to be undertaken by the executive. For instance, the case of Whitman Labor Government in 1975 is exemplary of the conflict and power balance the senate and the executive exercise-in, which the senate blocked crucial supply to the government a dismal that the House of Representatives can only put government to a halt (Yoonkyung et al 2015).
The evolution of the Australian form of governance is plainly described as a Washminister mutation that transitioned from a federal system similar to that of the United States and adopted a Westminster system which embraces a responsible parliamentary government. The fusion and adoption of governance differ from the systems of government which the United States has and slightly different from the British-derived form of governance (Brenton 2015). Although Australia has a parliamentary form of government, it differs from all other bicameral systems in that it has a less powerful senate, but a relatively illegitimate similar to the British house of lords. However, the Australian Senate is notable for its unique distinction from the American and British systems of governance, especially the powers and structure of the senate in that its senate is directly voted in by the electorate. In addition, the nature of its two houses of representatives has had the people represented by elected members of both houses (Brenton 2015).
Electoral legislation has come to a refined stated through extremely rigorous reforms which introduced a proportional representation for the senate in the case of Labor Attorney General H. V Evatt whose description of the reform echoed it a significant step in enhancing the status of the Senate. The Senate practice in the context of Australia has been inclined to a balance of power and attainment of a balance between representation and power of the representative houses. Such electoral reforms brought about solid and specific functionality of the senate by allowing additional representation of the discernible bodies of the electoral opinion in parliament and consequent majority representation. Thus, the senate is an institution of the commonwealth that has majority ruled preferred yet imperfectly expressed in the House of Representatives, but armed with adequate representation (Brenton, 2015).
The multiparty system of government has, however stormed the nature of the Senate given the infiltration of party politics and the consequent labeling of the houses of representatives as party houses. The lack of discipline and separation of group party influence in voting has undermined the principle of representative democracy (Miragliotta, Errington, & Barry, 2013). The system of group voting has had a preference in allocating preference in those parties somewhat control their candidates and yield their ideologies upon them. In this regard, the capacity to have independent balance of affairs and power between the government and the opposition has become rather strained and this has created a fundamental weakness that has false representation that has a popular vote serving the interest of party interests (Brenton 2015).
Accountability of the democratic governance through the institutions of governance such as parliament the senate and the executive in the overall government system is a quite minimum except for the individual representative such as senators in regards to their particular duties. The senate is overall responsible to execute its mandate, but it can only be held accountable effectively through addressing the role of individual representatives that is senatorial mandate of each senator since they are under pressure from the constituents to deliver in actions and elective authority assigned to them. At most they can be individually summoned and sued whereas they is not possible for the senate as a whole in its capacity as legislative institution. In additional, senate members have to appeal to the electorate since they seek election and re-election from the people they represent. Therefore, they must respond to the audience and promote agendas relevant to them, as their activities are important for delivery service to them by practicing their mandate (Osce et al 2015).
Senators have a deep-rooted perception of the role of the senate and the consequent role it is accountable for in that issues addressed by the senate are specific to states whereas their relevance sometimes escalates to national relevance. Senate therefore stretches from a states representative house since its mandate covers national issues and impact government decisions such as allocation of funds to curb disasters and issues such as security which are dire and more critical certain areas more than others (Brenton 2015).
Brenton, S. (2015), Bicameral representation. Available at
<http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/APF/monographs/What_lies_beneath/Bicameral>[Accessed April 25, 2015]
Herbert K. (2003). Citizens, politicians, and party cartellization: Political representation and state failure in postindustrial democracies.European Journal of Political Research. DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.00508
Miragliotta, N., Errington, W., & Barry, N. (2013). The Australian political system in action.
South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.
Osce. (no date) Effective Participation and Representation in Democratic Societies.
Available at http://www.osce.org/odihr/24995?download=true [Accessed May 13, 2015]
Peter Mair. Electoral Democracy and Political Representation in the European...
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