Posted by / Monday 4 April 2016 / No comments

The importance of Public Opinion

Public opinion can be defined as a sum of all the views held by the public on a particular issue at a particular time.

A guide to government
Public opinion helps the government when it is formulating policies for implementation so that it can meet the expectations of the people. In that sense, public opinion helps the government of the day to determine the wishes of the people and what they think about its policies and actions. 

Encourages public participation
As the people express their opinion on issues of national importance, they are, at the same time, participating indirectly in the governance of their country. These views, expressed by the public on issues of public interest helps the government in the sense that, where a policy does not inure to the benefit of the people, it can be changed to meet their expectations.

Measures Government Performance
Public opinion can be used to determined how well a government has performed. In a democratic country, periodic elections are used to measure how well a government has done during a mandated term of office. However, in between, elections can no longer be used. People rely on public opinion polls to judge government performance.

Shapes Government’s Image
Public opinion can also be used to determine whether a government is democratic or not. In a democratic system, governments create the platform for the populace to express their opinions on issues. The absence of this is proof that the government is not democratic.

Accountability of Government`
Public opinion is a useful tool in making government responsible to the electorates. The people can demand from the government to account for its activities in power. These demands are expressed through the opinions of the people to compel governments to be accountable.

Educates the public
One of the functions of the mass media - TV, newspaper, and radio - is to educate their audience and readers. As opinions are expressed on various issues at these various media outlets, the listeners, viewers, and readers get educated government policy directions and programmes to develop the country.

1. a. What is public opinion? [2 marks]
    b. Explain five ways in which public opinion is important to a state? [10 marks]
2. Highlight six ways in which public opinion is important. [12 marks]

3. What six important roles do public opinion play in a democratic system of government? [12 marks]

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