Are Votes always Equal in Democracies?
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Are Votes always Equal in Democracies?
Rules governing political representations do indeed have far reaching consequences in determination of how national resources are distributed in represented regions. Most of the world’s highly populated democracies are in essence political unions of a number of electral blocks which are in most cases unevenly represented in a democracy’s national assembly. According to Dragu and Rodden (p. 8601), the United States is one such democracy where the over represented states tend to enjoy a larger piece of the national pie. Typically, this has been associated with the underlying fact that better legislative representation is accorded to such regions on previously agreed upon terms which though may be outdated still stand based on their legallity. This essay seeks to look into the issues as to whether votes cast in democratic political dispensations are equal and further seek to explain why this trend is set to continue.
It is common the world over to find that in the instance that there are independent political regions uniting towards the creation of a larger political entity, there is always some degree of intensity in disputes related to representation. The main bone for contention leading to such disputes results from the question as to whether representation should be pegeed on regional area or regional population (Dragu and Rodden, p. 8601). The ferocity witnessed in such disputes is ultimately inked to the distribution of collective resources. Emperical research conducted over the past decades has conclusively showed that regions enjoying huge political over representations do indeed benefit from more national government expenditures. However, the political structure that essentially determines political representation is founded on bargaining agreements agreed upon by regions within the larger regions. As such, this tend to present political scientists with a basic challenge in conclusively measuring the relationship existing between political representation and econnomic redistribution (Lecture Notes 1).
Dragu and Rodden (p. 8603) reported reseach results that indicated that in deed over represented regions tend to recieve higher per capita inflows compared to other regions with lower political representation. For instance, in Brazil, the state of Ampa is one such over represented regions and is considered as being more likely to attract fiscal inflows that are nearly five times more than those registered in the state of Sao Paulo which happens top be the most under represented Brazillian state.
Autocratic administrations continue to crumble the world over and ethnically inclusive administrations rise to lead constituent regions in the most fair structure of political representations (Dragu and Rodden, p. 8603). Stability and peace are fundamentally dictated by legislative representations such that robust assymetric regional representation is necessary to realize this end.
In some cases, this may be baecause institutions created in such regions to oversee territorial representation may in some cases go against the grain with regard to maxims of democrracy but may have acquired acceptance before the population realises the need for equity with regard to fiscal allocation (Dragu and Rodden, p. 8604). In other instances, representation structures originated from agreements signed upon more than a century ago have central administrative governments with powers to institute tax regimes which still determine fiscal allocations well into the 21st century. On the contrary, there is the high probability that new but unstable countries may be plagued by potent feelings of hostitlity and mistrust while clearly skewed fiscal allocations maty serve to sow seeds of discord in such a country.
Origins of malapportionment
In a jounal article authored by Samuels and Snyder, most electoral structures in countries around the world have experienced malapportionment with regard to legislative representation and geographical representation (p. 652). This tends to undermine the democratic maxim postulated ny Dahl calling for one person one vote (Samuels and Snyder, p. 652). Case studies on countries like Japan,the US and Mexico show that the degree of malappotionment is indeed mirrored in coalition dynamics and policy choice in the decision making exploitas of the incumbent regional executives or representatives.
It is important to point out that malapportionment has historical origins more so with respect to the processes of nation building or in other cases state building (Samuels and Snyder, p. 670). For instance, in a number of countries in Latin America, rural districts which enjoyed over representation saw the rural elite have strong influences on nation buiding policy formulations. As such, it has been argued that this evident malapportionment played the important purpose of ensuring that rural areas were not marginalised in favor of more urban areas so that a country could attain a relative equal form of social, economic and political development. This in essence may be considered as a basis for research investigating whether this indeed did ensure that regions remained cohessive for the good of the entire nation.
In democracies the world over, votes are not equal. This has resulted from a range of decisions arrived at during the creation of these democracies. As the world has progressed, the issue of unequal distribution of resources has surfaced as some regions enjoy better economic conditions compared to others. Resource allocation is ideally pegged on political representation in organs charged with determing revenue allocation schematics. Democratic institutions are meant to be fair and such malapportionments play a deragotaory role in the development of democratic ideals. As such countries should stive to ensure that regional representation is accorded equitably so as to promote equitable distribution of national resources for stability and national development.
Dragua, Tiberiu and Rodden, Jonathan. “Representation and redistribution in federations.” PNAS vol. 108 no. 21 (2011): 8601-8604. Print.
Lecture Notes 1. “Are Votes Always Equal in Democracies?” Lecture Notes 1. (2013).
Samuel, David and Snyder, Richard. “The Value of a Vote: Malapportionment in Comparative PerspectiveI.” B.J.Pol.S. 31, (2001): 651–671 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Print.