Political accountability is a phrase that refers to the guidelines that politicians are expected to adhere to by their constituencies and other organizations. The latter typically have the power to apply sanctions to such individuals. With the increase of the level of accountability expected comes an increase in the price paid by public officials who make decisions that benefit their personal interests, rather than the broader public.
To ensure accountability can be enforced, the sanctions implemented by each public figure’s constituency or other watchdog group must be effective.Competition among political candidates is also helpful in regulating the behavior of government officials. This is because all politicians have an excellent motive to expose the inappropriate activities of their opponents, which often results in all individuals in this category choosing to hold themselves accountable so that they can avoid having someone else take over this task.
For thousands of years, measures to enforce accountability and combat corruption have been taken by organizations and individuals. Measures of this kind come in many forms, such as bills against bribery, which were in effect in certain parts of the world as far back as the 16th century. Often the result of power struggles among political groups and similar organizations, bills of this type frequently offered positive results. Once the latter were recognized, they became a highly popular method of regulating politicians.
Constituencies expressing their collective demands to politicians is also an avenue through which such individuals can be held accountable. Refusing to financially support the politician’s campaign or vote for him or her are also measures that people take in an attempt to ensure the official acts appropriately.
Almost everyone would agree that all political parties should be held to specific standards, but statistics throughout the world show that implementing effective systems to accomplish this is often difficult. A frequently heard complaint of numerous individuals concerns the way public officials spend their campaign funds. For example, many voters withdraw their support from candidates who are caught channeling such money into private interests or offering bribes for political backing.
Transparency plays a major role in public official monitoring as well. There is a broad range of measures that can be used to ensure that such transparency is consistent. These include offering court records to the public, which should include the decisions made by any politician who ever worked as a judge. Making government sessions and their transcripts open to public view and registering lobbying activities are also effective measures.
Other techniques have been deemed effective in deterring corrupt behavior. These include disciplinary committees, regulations on lobbying, and establishing an ethics code. In addition, party financing laws and asset declaration laws are among the most common regulatory methods.
To be optimally effective, however, any kind of political accountability regulation requires an implementation body. It is likely that additional organizations of this kind will be formed in the future for the purpose of weeding out dishonest officials and politicians. Unfortunately, there will always be disreputable individuals seeking places in government, but the measures outlined above will enhance the public’s ability to differentiate genuine candidates from those who are shady or corrupt.
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Author: Dorothea GarnerThis author has published 63 articles so far.