Reasons for Political Participation
Definition of Political Participation
Political participation is the involvement of the people in political activities. It is a process by which the government engaged the people in decision-making or solicit their views on matters that affect them.
We have explained and cover most appropriate contents you might need to read on Political Participation.
Political participation there for refers to “those activities by which members of a society share in the selection of rulers, and directly or indirectly in the formation of public policy”.
Why People Decide in to Participate in State Politics
There are several reasons why people participate in politics.
- Gathering information about political issues
- Discussion of political issues
- Opinion leadership
- Wearing a badge putting a sticker on a car
- Petitioning political leaders
- Making financial donation
- Attending political meetings
- Active political membership
- Soliciting political funds
- Seeking and holding office
- Protest and demonstration
Realisation of Economic Interest
People often seek to improve their economic or material well-being through political means. Investing in political projects may be as rewarding (if not more rewarding) as investing in oil business.
For example, a former Senate President in Nigeria Fourth Republic once categorically stated that politics is business and a Senator has a right to seek returns on his investment.
He must have spoken for most Nigerian politicians who go into politics to amass wealth. It is a notorious fact, for example, that the emoluments of Nigerian lawmakers are completely at variance with the country’s wages and income policies.
Although there are more direct means of advancing one’s economic interest, for example, by working or saving, yet the returns on political investment may be very high.
But more importantly, people who have resources may go into politics to defend their property from attack by those who have no property who, in a democracy, are usually in the majority. This may partly explain why the majority of those who take part in politics are those who already have immense economic resources.
Satisfaction of Psychological Needs
Some people participate in politics so as to win the approval of others, and of themselves, that is, to prove that they can win elections and dominate or control others.
A former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is vocal in and out of office and gives the impression of man who enjoys the klieg light.
Desire to Increase Understanding of the Political Environment
The desire to understand the political environment (e.g. the operation of government) maybe the reason for Political participation.
People may be pressurized to participate in politics. The pressure may come from:
- The family, perhaps to maintain the political dynasty as in the case of the Bush, Bhutto, Gondhi, Awolowo, Azikwe, Mbadiwe, Yar’Adua, Akintola, Adebayo and Saraki families.
- Peer group e.g. old school mates.
- The local community, that is, to represent the community because of the person’s previous beneficial activities to the people of the area.
- Religious group e.g. to champion a particular religious cause.
Evidence of Affirmation of Loyalty
People may participate in politics (e.g. voting at election) to show loyalty to a party, to a candidate, to a group or to democracy. It is unthinkable for example that the spouse and children of an aspiring candidate to a public office will not vote for him in an election.
Low Cost of Participation
Participation in politics (e.g. voting or attending a political rally) may be considered reasonable since the costs at extremely low.
But in place where violence is perpetrated at campaign grounds as in Suleija, Maiduguri, and Jos, during the April 2011 elections, the people may be compelled to calculate the opportunity cost of attending rallies, or even voting.
Political participation is a civic duty. There is, for example a feeling that one has a duty to vote.
Basis For Common Action
Political participation may provide a basis for common action especially if the common interest of a certain group in the society is threatened in some way.
Entertainment Value of Politics
Some people enjoy politics because of its comical and dramatic aspects. In some cases, a rally or a campaign is like a jamboree and some people enjoy the drama and spectacle. Similarly, many people regard participation e.g. voting or reading about politics as a pleasure rather than a cost.