Posted by / Monday 4 April 2016 / No comments

Problems associated with Public Opinion

Newspaper, News, Media, Spectacles

Stifles National Development
In a country that boasts of its democratic credentials, public opinion can stifle the development of a nation. This happens especially when the government of the day listens always to the opinions of the people and attempts to act on them.

It is not easy to determine public opinion
It is not certain what exactly constitutes public opinion. It could also be that what constitutes public opinion may not be a proper representation of the opinions of the general population but rather the opinion of just a few but vocal elements in society.

Frequent changes in government policies
In order to appear to be democratic, some governments listen and bow to the opinions of the people too often. This creates a problem where the government is compelled to change policies too frequently. Consequently, the development of the country suffers.

A threat to state security
Some government decisions have security implications for the state. Therefore, if the public wants their opinion on every policy including those with security connotations, to be taken into consideration, the security of the state may be jeopardized. 

Manipulation by Governments

The government of the day can use the state media to manipulate the will of the ruling government to appear as the opinion of the people. This is especially easy where the government controls the state media outlets and is able to influence the private media if they exist.

Slow during crisis
In times is serious emergencies, the government needs to take swift action. If the government decides to wait for the opinion of the people before it acts, it may endanger the security of the nations. This is because public opinion formation can be very slow when speed is required. If there is an outbreak disease, for example, the government needs to take quick decision to contain the situation. That is not the time to wait for public opinion to form.

1. a. What is public opinion? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight three ways in which public opinion is important and three problems can be associated with public opinion. [10 marks]

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