Posted by / Monday 12 December 2016 / No comments

The merits of universal adult suffrage

Vote Election Politics Government Campaign

Definition of universal adult suffrage
Suffrage can be defined as the opportunity given to citizens to cast a ballot to elect people who offer themselves for political office through parliament or the executive. 

A distinction is made between limited suffrage and universal suffrage. A limited suffrage refers to limitations set in the legal instruments where only some categories of people can vote based on their race, religious persuasion, age, sex, wealth, mental status and any others. The universal suffrage on the other hand does not set any limitations to the types of people who can vote in an election.

It ensures equity
One of the merits of universal adult suffrage is the fact that it ensures equity. As a human being residing in or outside your country, it allows for people to participate in the choice of who represents them in the running of the affairs of the state.

It is democratic
Another merit of universal suffrage is that it is democratic. One of the tenets of democracy is that everybody must be allowed to vote in an election. This has produced the slogan ‘one man one vote’. Since the slogan is embedded in the concept of universal adult suffrage, one can safely argue that universal adult suffrage is democratic.

Protects minority interests
Universal adult suffrage also protects the interest of the minority group in a country. This is so because they are given the opportunity to elect the one to represent their interests either in parliament or in the executive arm of the government.

Ensures national cohesion
Universal adult suffrage is reputed to be an instrument that enhances national cohesion. This is because it does not matter which religion one professes, ethnic group one belongs to, the language one speaks, the size of one’s bank balance among others, everybody is allowed to cast one vote. This way such differences as religion, ethnicity, language, etc are buried and national integration is promoted.

Ensures accountability
In every type of western democracy, there are periodic elections where the electorates have the power to determine who continues to rule them. The elected officials also know that if they do not satisfy the needs of the people they rule, come the next election they could be voted out of power. This makes them accountable to the people to ensure that they are retained at the polls.

Allows for participation
The practice of universal adult suffrage allows the ordinary person in the streets to participate in the electoral process of their country. The size of a country’s population today does not allow the people to directly participate in government as it used to be in the Ancient Greek city-states. That is why indirect democracy is being practiced. One of the ways in which the people participate in this type of democracy is by exercising their franchise.

1. a. What is universal adult suffrage?
    b. Highlight five advantages of universal adult suffrage.

2. Highlight six advantages of universal adult suffrage.

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