Politics 8

In any democratic country, it is the politicians who represent the aspirations, opinions and voice of the people. People elect politicians who they feel best represent what they stand for, and implement what they believe the country needs. But is this the case?  If the views of the people change, or the government performs poorly, the ruling party gets voted out, and a new set of politicians, possibly representing a different ideology, again chosen by the people, are given their chance. Do they do anything different? These politicians then go on to frame laws in the legislature, depending on the people’s wishes and the party ideology.  Civil Servants on the other hand, are people who have strong knowledge and experience, continuity and fixture, in certain fields of policy and governance – and  know how to implement certain policies sought by the government, and what the potential problems can be. Civil Servants are chosen on the basis of seniority or merit, and are not elected by the people. Instead, they use the laws passed in the Dail to devise and see over implementable solutions that are in line with those laws. They use their experience and knowledge and years of practical implementation  to bring to fruition the plans and wishes of the country’s people, which are represented and passed by the politicians and the laws that they make. Thus, it is crucial that both politicians and Civil Servants (CS) work constructively together in harmony towards the development of the nation and for equity and fairness. A politician may understand the pulse of the people and know what the people in his constituency demand – but may not be able to come up with practical solutions to properly tackle issues. These issues often require interdepartmental knowledge across a variety of social and financial issues that only a C.S. can appreciate. A CS, on the other hand, may devise idealistic or unpopular solutions without knowing what the people who will be most affected by his decisions actually expect. Maybe that is why we have so many shocking mistakes and inequality both in finances and services. There are several cases where a politician and a CS serve different, independent roles that the other cannot perform – for instance, one cannot have a politician as the head of the Law Reform, Gardai and other regulatory agencies, since they strictly require political neutrality. A good example of this would be the relationship between the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Central Bank.  The Government would always like to spend a lot of money to boost economic growth, but that would lead to high inflation. Thus, the two functions of 1) boosting economic growth and 2) keeping inflation under check cannot be both given to the same person due to the conflict of interest. But does this always happen? The Government – consisting of politicians elected by popular vote – try to boost economic growth, while the Governor – headed by a non-elected, but knowledgeable man keeps inflation under control by regulating interest rates, even if that means slowing down economic growth. Both balance each other and both are necessary for developing overall healthy policies for a fundamentally strong economy. Well, if all this is the case – then why are our lawmaking politicians still performing so poorly? We must keep in mind that in a democracy the people get what they deserve. If they perform badly, it is the duty of the people to make an informed choice and bring about a change. But at the end of the day, the politician you get is the politician a majority of people wanted. No matter how dishonest he/she might be, they still serve as a representative of the people of the region – but winning an election and gaining the support of thousands of people is surely no mean feat. But charisma and popularity sometimes don’t make for good decisions.  So we must ensure that good performance and integrity is the criteria that we use at the polling booth. But replacing them with non-elected people who are not answerable to the people cannot be a good solution either. So it is imperative that when you are voting for a candidate, that you choose wisely, and ensure that what they are promising are for the good of all people rich and poor and see if we can bring back a sense of dignity and respect to this small nation.