5 theories on suffrage


Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election. The combination of active and passive suffrage is sometimes called full suffrage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffrage.

[1] Natural right theory. Suffrage is a natural and inherent right of every citizen who is not disqualified by reason of his own reprehensible conduct or unfitness. (Nachura) However, James Bryce (Hindrances to Good Citizenship, p. 55) has written that the idea "that every man has a sort of natural right to vote is now generally diffused."

A natural right is one that a person enjoys even without a statutory or constitutional grant. Examples of such right are the right to life and the right to enter into contracts.

The first school of thought is that suffrage is a natural right and the Constitution (or the laws) mere regulates it. Another view is that suffrage itself is a constitutionally-granted right while "the right to select a leader" is a natural right.

The second school of thought draws a line between the act of voting itself and the mental act of selecting a leader. The supporting argument is that, in the past, people did not cast their votes on the ballot but chose or replaced their leaders through the natural unfolding of events.

[2] Social expediency. Suffrage is a public office or function conferred upon the citizen for reasons of social expediency; conferred upon those who are fit and capable of discharging it. (Nachura)

Nachura's definition of "social expediency" as a theory on suffrage does not seem to appear in other textbooks. However, it can understood as a pursuit of the greatest good for the greater number. For example, the women's suffrage movement was impelled by many reasons: politics, equity, equal protection, the natural right argument and the theory on social expediency. The last means that the world would be a better place if women can also exercise the right to vote.In the last five years of the suffrage campaign, arguments for woman suffrage based on equity and those based on social expediency stood side by side. www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/se/5905/590501.html.

[3] Tribal theory. It is a necessary attribute of membership in the State. (Nachura) In early Greek and Roman States, suffrage was extended only to the citizen class. Only people who were accorded citizenship status could vote. Nowadays, citizenship is essential for voting. This practice is based on the Tribal Theory. www.brainkart.com/article/Theories-Of-The-Nature-Of-Suffrage_1653.

[4] Feudal theory. It is an adjunct of a particular status, generally tenurial in character, i.e., a vested privilege usually accompanying ownership of land. (Nachura) The feudal theory claims that the right to vote depends on a particulars social status. The simplest form of social status was ownership of land. Even now in some states emphasis is on property qualification. This is a legacy of the feudal theory. www.brainkart.com/article/Theories-Of-The-Nature-Of-Suffrage_1653.

[5] Ethical theory. It is a necessary and essential means for the development of society. (Nachura) The Ethical Theory considers the right to vote as a means of self expression of the individual in political affairs. Suffrage provides for the development of the human personality. www.brainkart.com/article/Theories-Of-The-Nature-Of-Suffrage_1653.

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