What’s more important for healthy democracy: Strong government or Strong Opposition

“A kite flies against the wind, not with it.[1]

These words of Winston S Churchill if seen in reference to a strong democracy is somewhat true. For a nation to have a strong pillar of democracy, there needs to be a robust opposition, an opposition which wringers the government whenever a government does something which is contrary to the interest of the population or constitution.

The government can be exemplified as a body that runs a country for a specific period of time and in the case of democracy, this carcass is elected by the people. Democracy customarily can be defined as “FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE”. One of the basic earmarks of democracy is there is always an opposition party. Democracy can never survive without opposition or combat.

Strong opposition is required to be there to look out that Majoritarianism should not behave like authoritarianism”. The opposition is the party which slackens Majoritarianism Oppugnancies'[i][2] the spirit of democracy. “A divided and weak opposition is more dangerous than the muscular ruling party”. But opposing every step of the ruling party is also not acceptable in a democracy. Only those acts or steps should be averse which are against the populace. The opposition should never be feeble, a feeble opposition is of no use to the nation. The existence of opposition in the case of it being weak can be counted as zilch. It would be better for well-being of people if along with censuring, some propositions or suggestions are given to the ruling party so that the present situation or dilemma could be solved when needed. Further with the presence of opposition parties be it one-party or many ruling parties has pressure to perform well and accomplish all its promises given to the population. All this kind of constitutes a balance.

There is one more adage “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power if not controlled or suppressed might result in annihilation due to the establishment of dictatorship. A straight and live example of this can be seen in a fellow Asian country namely “North Korea” which is an isolated country and where the dictator is so perilous that he does whatever he wishes. According to US forces (source),[3]North Korea had issued a shoot to kill order to avert coronavirus infection. Where the whole world was struggling to prevent the death of people infected by this menacing disease, a dictator in a country was planning to shoot people instead of saving lives. Another popular example that the world witnessed was of Hitler. Hitler had no strong opposition hence there was no one to object to his actions or oppose him.

Democracy in today’s world has become more tenacious. There are several new political parties turning up. They have new and disparate blueprints and are not afraid by the ruling party, as well as they ask questions and oppose them on any occasion necessary. Recently, day after the Uttarakhand High Court directed the CBI to probe the corruption charges levelled by a journalist against Chief Minister ‘Trivendra Singh Rawat’, opposition Congress demanded his resignation on moral grounds on Wednesday.[4] Furthermore, when the Farmer’s Bill was passed it was staunchly opposed by other parties. As a sign of their denunciation, protests were held at the different regions in India. CM of Punjab ‘Amarinder Singh’ warns Centre of repercussions of farmers’ agitation in Punjab[5]. All these incidents show that oppositions do raise their voices which creates pressure on the government and make them remind from time to time that apart from the constitution other bodies are keeping an eye on them and every step or decision would be taken only for progress, well-being and interest of the people and self-interested policies or rules will not be brooked.

Considering the ruling party to be a stick which is strong and thick-to-the-core, the opposition party/parties, which by general means are weaker than the ruling party should stand strong together as a bundle of sticks so that they can oppose their wrong deeds flawlessly. More members will result in a greater number of ideas. Opposition parties in sync will obviously have more ideas, plans, and schemes and hence will not only oppose the ruling party but present their ideas when needed.

It is not necessary that there would be only single opposition, it can be one or many. India can be an example of a multiparty system. The Greater the number of the party, the more the ruling party be prudent in its decision making. The Opposition, when coming together, could be stronger than the ruling party and could create pressure more effectively. Just like for[6] the first time, Pakistan’s two major Opposition parties have come out openly against the country’s powerful military accusing it of rigging the 2018 elections that brought Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party to power. The opposition parties were the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). The two parties also decided to hold a combined rally as part of their protest. These kinds of incidents increase our faith in democracy and make sure that if the people are unhappy with a party, it is openly addressed and considered.

The democratic organization is all about people's choice of what citizenry likes, what are their expectations from their government. Each and every representative and their parties for this reason assure their manifesto includes all the necessities for voters. Presenting a manifesto is a crucial step in democracy as it helps people to know about parties' goals and objectives which they promise to deliver. The list of agendas should be explicit and should not be perplexing. More number of parties standing in the election will give more preferences to people to vote accordingly. When there will be a greater number of parties in an election race, every single party, and their each candidate will spare no effort to please the voters, ultimately enhancing the healthy competition. Whichever party wins or loses, the main purpose should be the welfare, prosperity and happiness of the population. No dirty politics should be played, the ruling party and opposing party at no time should join hands to carry forward any step that can distress people. The quintessence or crux of democracy will astray if native is not satisfied.

[1] Winston S. Churchill [2] Times of India, July 08 2019 [3] The Hindu 12 September 2020 [4] NDTV.com 28th October 2020 [5] The Hindu 4th November 2020 [6] The Hindu 10th October 2020

The author of this post is Unnati Raj (a student at Gautam Buddha University, School of Law Justice and Government, Greater Noida)

The views expressed in this article belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the JEC Blog. We welcome comments and contributions to this blog – please comment below.

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