By Javad Heirannia

High election turnout signify share in political system: academic 

May 2, 2017

TEHRAN – Professor Nader Entessar from South Alabama University is of the opinion that massive participation in elections can signify that people “have a stake” in their country’s political system 

“High turnouts in elections can signify that people see some value in participating in a particular election cycle and that they have a stake in the political system of their country," Entessar tells the Tehran Times. 
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Do elections in a country mean that there is democracy?

A: Holding elections is an important step towards establishing accountability on the part of the government, but it does not necessarily imply that a country is democratic simply because it holds elections.  Elections are a process towards establishing a democratic system and not an end in themselves.

Q: Does people’s participation in elections really affect their personal and social life? 

A: Elections matter in people's lives only if those elected are accountable to the people, but the impact of elections on the day-to-day lives of the people may be as profound as some people may hope.  For example, if the election process is controlled by powerful special interests, then personal and social lives of ordinary people will not be affected.

Q: Does high turnout in elections show political maturity of a society?

A: High turnouts in elections can signify that people see some value in participating in a particular election cycle and that they have a stake in the political system of their country.  However, political maturity cannot be confined simply to participating in periodic elections.  Political maturity is also reflected in how engaged the average citizens are in the day-to-day affairs of their country.  Elections are just one way of political participation.

Q: In what way can high turnout help political development?

A: Elections should not be seen as a be-all, end-all indication to a country’s political maturity.  As I had stated in my previous answer, a fair and free election is the necessary step towards the evolution of country's political maturity, but a country's political development involves taking many other steps, such as the existence of a robust civil society.

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