Representative Government 


Welcome to class! 

In today’s class, we will be talking about representative government. Enjoy the class!

Representative Government 

Representative Government

A Representative Government is the type of government in which the citizens or electorate are allowed to elect their leaders i.e. representatives. It is an indirect form of democracy.

Features of representative government

  1. Political equality (influence)
  2. Majority rule: the candidate who gets 50% of the votes plus at least 1, wins. if the election is between more than 2 candidates, then it is narrowed down to the 2 with the highest percentage of votes and then the people vote between them.
  1. Political competition and choice: voters must have more than one candidate to choose from
  2. Transparency in government
  3. Political accountability: the masses have a right to remove an incumbent from office if they are not abiding by the law and/or correctly doing their job

Conditions for its establishment

  1. First, the assembly must be freely representative as it is possible to make it.
  2. Second, members must be free to discuss issues with complete frankness and to reach a decision without hindrance
  3. Third, the assembly’s decision must be binding and enforceable.

A truly representative parliament according to J.H. Price involves the following requirements: free elections, a proper register of electors, proper constituencies and real choice of candidates and programmes, a politically educated electorate, frequent elections.

For free elections, the voters should have the opportunity of choosing the people they wish to represent them. They must, therefore, have genuine freedom of choice. Any eligible candidate should be allowed to stand for election without hindrance and the voter must feel free to vote for him with no fear of unpleasant consequences. Voting must, therefore, be by secret ballot, in order that the individual voter’s decision may never be known to anybody else.

Merits of representative government
  1. Citizen representation:

    With this form of government, the people have the say in who is elected into any form of the government office. These elected officials then make decisions based on what the people want, and in the best interest of the majority of people. They represent the citizens in ways that they could not do for themselves.

  2. A Place to turn to:

    By having elected officials in all areas of the country, if someone has an issue that they think should be addressed or something that they feel should change, they can easily access their local official. These officials can then help them with their problems and guide them through the steps they need to take to get it to the next level of government.

  3. High participation:

    Knowing that they have a voice in the government urges people to be more educated and up to date on issues that are happening in the country as well as the world. Each year we see an increase in the number of people showing up to vote for their officials.

Demerits of representative government
  1. Misplaced trust:

    Once the election process is over, the people’s voice in government is virtually done. They have to put their faith and trust in the person that they elect to communicate and do things that they’ve promised to do. This is rarely the case. Many times these elected officials have ulterior agendas that are not in the best interest of the citizens.

  2. The majority rules:

    The election process of representative government focuses solely on the majority. The minority groups, no matter how significant their issues may be, are rarely represented simply because they do not have the majority of the votes to get an official into office. This causes a feeling of separation with these groups as well as feeling like their issues are not as important.

  3. No accountability:

    Once elected, officials can do whatever they please, and this often includes breaking campaign promises that they made to be elected in the first place. When things go wrong, or not in favour of the people, there is no repercussion for these officials. The only possible consequence that could come is that they would not be reelected.

  1. Why is representative government indirect form of democracy?
  2. Highlight five (5) features of a representative government.
  3. Explain the conditions necessary for the establishment of a representative government.
  4. Give four (4) merits of a representative government.
  5. Outline the demerits of a representative government.


We hope you enjoyed the class.

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