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Essay on “The Role of Opposition in a Democracy” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The Role of Opposition in a Democracy

POINTS TO DEVELOP 1. Place of ‘opposition; in various forms of government and origin of the concept.

  1.  opposition and the party system.

  2.  function of opposition in a democracy- form alternate up public opinion and get it incorporated in policies; bring up priority issues for attention of the policy makers; ensure the upholding of the constitution.

  3. in times of national crises, a democracy gains strength as government and opposition act in concert

  4. Responsible behaviour required if opposition is to work for the nation’s good.

Some forms of rule cannot tolerate opposition. And root it out wherever. It arises. Other forms not only tolerate it, but make room for it within the institutions of government. This feature of ‘ internalised opposition; has sometimes been taken as mark of limited, as opposed to absolute. Government. And also as the  marks of politics ,as opposed to coercion. It is herd to imagine the feature without extremely complex institutions and constitutional devices: it is one of the principal problems of political thought to discover what makes such opposition possible. The use of the term ‘opposition’. To denote forces within political institutions that resist the filing officers or party is comparatively recent. J. Carn Hobhouse, speaking in the house of Commons in 1826, remarked that it was said to be vary hard on his Majesty’s  ministers to raise objections  to some proposition. For his own part, he thought it was ,more hard on his majesty’s opposition to compel them to take this course. Handsard records laughter at the phrase “ His majesty’s opposition”. 

Although the term ‘ opposition’ was used as far back as the eighteenth century to eighteenth century to refer to a party or a caucus within an assembly, the suggestion of an established opposition is relatively new. It is now , however, quite normal to refer to a ‘loyal opposition’. And the imply that the interests of the state are as will served by the opposition as by the government itself.

The ‘opposition’ in the modern UK parliament consists not merely of opposition parties of faction ,but princely pf a ‘shadow formations’. The offices of government are imitated within the opposition which thereby forms itself into a body prepared to substitute for all the occupants of those offices at anytime. The opposition has its leader its every move of the government with counterproposals, representing. In theory, what it would do if it were in office.

Even in states with high levels of repression it is rare to find no trace of opposition. In single- party systems, the opposition may exist as an underground movement as in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where no Union was permitted but dissidents like Boris Yeltsin continued to exist. Or an opposition may engage in armed struggle as in El Salvador. Undue repression of the opposition often results in bloodshed and even change of government through violent means.

In democratic systems, the opposition is officially permitted and recognised. Even the leader of opposition is given an honourable place in the system. In Britain, the position of the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition is as the tight of  reply to prime ministerial broadcasts. In India, too, the opposition leader has been given certain commands the support fo the required number of Parliament members.

The concept of opposition in the modern democratic state is closely connected with the idea of the political party. A political party is a more of less organised group pf citizens who act together as a political unit, have distinctive aims and opinions on the leading political issues and problems in the state and whom by acting together as a political unit , seek to obtain control of the government. The party that is out of the government at given point of time is called the opposition party. The number o the opposition party. The number of opposition party/ parties may be one or more depending on whether there is a dual-part or multiparty system.

The most prominent question the at may strike one’s  mind is: why does democracy demand the existence of opposition?  An  opposition party always looks for an op’ portunity to replace the party in – government , and implement its own politics and programmes. As a result, it serves two purposes. One, the government of  the day eschews being arbitrary in its action and negligent of the interests of the people in general; on the other, the people of democratic country are offered and alternative in governance of the country in their interests.

The opposition parties also enable men and women who think alike on public questions to unite in support of a common body of principles and policies and to work together to see that those principles and policies are adopted and implemented by the government. Without organisation, the people can neither formulate principles easily nor agree on policy. The opposition makes articulate the inarticulate desires of sections of the masses and gives expression to their pent- up feelings. This goes a ling way in checking violence and political crimes which are, in reality fatal for the healthy survival of democracy.

Out of the innumerable problems which call for solution in a state, the opposition is expected to select those which are comparatively urgent, study them, think out solutions an present them to the people and to the government.  And , thus, it acts as a “broker of ideas” as Lowell says. It preserves a sense of continuity in public policy, organises and educates the electorate, and helps to carry on and necessitate regular elections. It also dramatises politics and keeps the nation politically alive. It keeps the government on its toes.

The opposition, like the judiciary is an agent for safeguarding the Constitution in case the government wittingly or unwittingly does something to violate it. The opposition also necessitates periodic interpretation, reinterpretation and amendment of the Constitution on suit changes in times, circumstances and priorities. In most democracies, the opposition’s views have to be taken into consideration in legislating on socially- sensitive matters. The opposition gas the capacity to instill in the government the confidence and ability to deal with national crises. Here, the opposition’s support means that the entire country is behind the government in the hour of crisis. Not many would have forgotten the thundering speech and support given by Atal Behari Vahpayee in the Parliament (1971) when the government of  India led by Indira Gandhi had to withstand the Pakistani aggression. In the absence of the opposition, the government cannot be sure of the entire population’s support, Moreover, the opposition also gives credence and authenticity to any measures of the government taken in the interests of the people  and the state. The parties outside power extend support to certain measures  as they cannot afford to be regarded as anti- people or animation as they, too, they ultimately to face the praise of wrath of the public. Thus, the opposition does not always have to oppose the government.

Sometimes the parties in opposition oppose the government measures merely for the sake of opposition, This delays even the progressive steps of the government and results in waste to time, money and material. It also misleads the masses. Not infrequently, the leaders in opposition resort to demagogy which is harmful for the nation’s health. Howsoever politically ignorant the people may be , they cannot forgive such irresponsible and delinquent behaviour on the part of an opposition party.

In a democracy , the modus operandi of the opposition involves going to the people and criticising the government, giving press- statements, debating and discussing issues in Parliament, arousing public opinion, both national and international , and placing no – confidence motions against the government. In India, submitting a memorandum to the President is also a common practice. All these are commensurate with the democratic norms and contribute to the consolidation and stabilisation of democracy in the social and political system.

To sum up, the opposition fulfills certain necessary functions- so necessary, indeed, that many competent thinkers consider it essential to the working of representative government. Of course, the opposition sometimes delays the proceeding and the implementation of vital legislation. But the balance tilts towards it beneficial impact rather then the baneful. If democracy has come to says, it is nor because it is the perfect form of self-government. Unlike dictatorship or totalitarian systems, it does not believe in self – evident principles. No plan or policy can benefit the people if we look only at its ‘ pros’ and deny the ‘cons’ . only the opposition that puts rein on the power of the government and checks it from becoming absolute.


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