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Role of the Opposition in Democracy!

In the British parliamentary democracy, the official opposition to the elected government has been recognized as integral and vital as the cabinet itself. In the British two-party system, the main opposition party is generally termed as the “Shadow Cabinet”. However, in the multi-party system of democracy as in India, the situation is different. Here the opposition comprises several parties and heterogeneous groups, which are often opposed to each other on several policy issues.

The role and function of opposition in such circumstances is different. Often, various national and regional parties and groups work in opposition to each other in the legislatures and outside. Even if they unite occasionally, it is more to run down the government on any specific issue or for a common grievance, but rarely, if at all, on an alternative common program of action or a joint blue-print of national development.

The presence of opposition is the most important characteristic of parliamentary democracy. Democracy needs an elected government as much as it needs an elected opposition. Through the constant interaction between the government and the opposition, stable national interest and general welfare of the citizens can emerge. Hence a positive and constructive opposition is of utmost importance for a vibrant democracy and progressive nation. While it is the duty of the elected government to provide good governance, a good opposition should cater to the need of providing checks and balances to the ruling party in their shortcomings and acts of omission and commission.

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Thomas Strinder

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