Electoral system

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(From Gr. syn, with, together, and histanai, to set). One of the components of the official and legitimate mechanism for the realization of democracy, for the participation of the citizens in governing through the institution of elections and suffrage. It involves the management of the State, municipalities, public associations and organizations, and the election of their officials and functionaries, as well as the monitoring of their activities. Elections can be direct or indirect; voting can be secret or open. There are different methods for the scrutiny of the ballots and for the distribution of seats in the parliament (in both majority and proportional systems). To legitimize their power, authoritarian regimes replace genuine elections with elections by acclamation, fraudulent plebiscites and other subterfuges. This is how Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Nasser, Pinochet, Suharto, Mao Ze dong, Saddam Hussein and other dictators have proceeded. Furthermore, electronic technology applied to the electoral system is beginning to make possible not only an acceleration in counting ballots, but is also putting the citizen in immediate contact with legislative initiatives or executive decrees, allowing them to exert pressure through direct expression of opinion (through computer networks), in a quasi-plebiscitary way. This possibility of instantaneous relationship between initiatives and accords, or discords, creates completely new conditions of interaction. Of course, we should not confuse this new technology with opinion polls, which are subject to manipulation by the State or by the company gathering, processing and delivering the results obtained. N.H. proposes a complement to the electoral system. This should consist of a body of laws of political responsibility that contribute to popular control over the performance of government officials. Legislation for political prosecution, the divestment of privileges of office, removal from office and other measures, must be clear for their immediate application. Such a system is important, not only to control irregularities, but also to reduce the margin of betrayal of the voters, which is frequently expressed as politicians’ non-fulfillment of their election promises. Using the pretext of waiting for future elections to be held to determine whether the citizens are in agreement or not with their conduct in office, the people’s decision is postponed in matters that can be of special urgency. Today, given the acceleration of societal events, such dilatoriness is totally disproportionate and demands a profound revision. Until now, the betrayal of the voters has been the favorite method used by leaders who take refuge in the conclusion of their mandate in order to ― only then ― verify whether the measures they have applied meet with the people’s acceptance or rejection.