ELECTIONS IN CHILDREN PARLIAMENT

The elections that take place in the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children (NPCs) are different from the elections people are accustomed to. In the system of election we follow, no one wins, no one looses. No competition takes place; no poster war is waged. No secrecy, no expenditure. Nobody stands as a candidate. This system is called sociocratic election method. This is a pleasing type of election.

The first principle of sociocratic election is that election is not to be person-centred, but task-centred.

One may wonder then, how sociocratic type of election takes place. Here is how:

 

Methodology of Election

    1. Circle formation

     

    The children sit in a circle. This way all are equal and the children can see every other child face to face.

     

    2. Introducing the Ministry/Concern

    The one conducting the election (Facilitator) announces the concern for which the minister is to be elected.

    For example: Suppose you are going to elect the Prime Minister. The Facilitator will say “Now we are about to elect the Prime Minister”.

     

    3.Discussion on the responsibility of the Minister

     

    The facilitator asks the following questions.

    1. What is meant by the post of the Prime Minister?
    2. What are the responsibilities the Prime Minister will handle? And what are the challenges he or she will have to face?

    The facilitator makes sure that all children take part in the discussion.

     

    4. Discussion on Capabilities and Attitudes required for the person to be elected as Prime Minister

    The facilitator asks another question: “What are the capabilities and talents the person to be elected should possess?” The members one by one express their views.

     

    5. First Round of Ballots:

    Each member is given a small piece of paper. Each one is asked to write first his or her name on the top of the paper. Then below that she or he should write the name of the person whom he or she suggests for the post of Prime Minister.

    For example, Anitha suggests the name of Kavitha for the post of Prime Minister:

    Anitha

     

    Kavitha

    A member can vote for himself in sociocratic form of elections. In that case the voter writes his or her name twice on the ballot paper. However, no one can propose his or any name publicly.

     

    6. Statement of Reason for the Suggestion

 

    The ballots are collected and heaps are made according to names suggested. For example if Pramod received 6 votes a heap of his six votes will be placed, and if Pradeep received 12 votes, another heap of his 12 votes will be placed and if Kavitha received 13 votes, a third heap of her 13 votes will be heaped together in one place. The names of the three persons who received the votes will be written on the floor for all to see. The facilitator takes each ballot paper in hand and addresses the person who had suggested the name and asks him or her to state the reason for suggestion. Each one gives the reason.

    For example we shall take ANITHA who suggested Kavitha.

    The facilitator says: “ANITHA, you have suggested the name of Kavitha for the post. Please tell us the reason why you did so.” ANITHA answers: “I suggested Kavitha, because she is a leader.”

     

    (Please note: Some one might say for example “I like her”, or “I just wrote a name”. These are not reasons for electing a person to a responsible position).

    By this exercise, the electors are taking responsibility for their choice.

     

    7. Chance to reconsider the suggestions

 

    Having heard every body’s suggestion the voters now have chance to consider the reasons and make a fresh choice. Therefore, the facilitator says “Now you heard also other proposals and the reasons for the proposals. Now you have an opportunity to reconsider your suggestion. Those who want to change their choices may take their ballot paper back and put on the heap of another’s name. Those who change will be asked to state their reason for their fresh choice.”

    Let us supposes ANITHA took her ballot from Kavitha’s heap and placed it on the heap of Pradeep. She says “After listening to the reasons given, especially that of Chandra who said Pradeep had been a class leader, I now change my choice”.

    In this manner they go on round after round to come to a stage when the facilitator decides that the general sense of the parliament is understood.

     

  1. Consent Round
  2. Suppose after a few rounds of changes Pradeep has 26 votes, Kavitha has 3 and Pramod has 2 votes. The facilitator now states the situation in the following or similar words “Friends, after all the rounds, Pradeep has 26 votes, Kavitha has 3 and Pramod has 2 votes. We are going to the final stage. That is Consent round”.

    The facilitator now takes the votes in the heaps of Kavitha and Pramod and calls those who had voted for them and says for example:

    “Herman, you voted for Kavitha, you do not want to change. However, considering that most of the members have preferred Pradeep, let me ask you if you have any serious objection to Pradeep being the Prime Minister”.

    In all probability Herman will say, “I have no objection”.

    The facilitator continues to ask others the same question and obtain “I have no serious objection” which is consent.

    The serious objection would be something like the following. “Pradeep is going abroad after six months”.

    The facilitator has the freedom now either to start the process all over again, or start from another person who had obtained a large number of votes at an earlier stage, or to say “we shall accept Pradeep as Prime Minister now and later, if he goes abroad we will have another round of election”.

    Facilitator is plays an important role in the election and must not be questioned. He or she could towards end chose a democratic method of declaring the result. He has to say something in the following lines “Since we have gone on for some time, and it looks like Kavitha has a large number of votes, we shall decide up Kavitha as the Prime Minister.”

    Another possibility is that Pradeep does not want to be the Prime Minister. Then Pradeep has the obligation to state his reason. His statement will start with “I do not want be Prime Minister because ……..” The statement of Pradeep must be reasonable.

    After getting the consent of all those who voted for another, the facilitator makes the announcement of the result thus “You have chosen Pradeep as your Prime Minister, let us give ourselves a round of applause”.

    The process is followed in election of all the ministers.

Please Note:

  1. A frequently raised objection to the process is that it would take a long time to complete. Some may even argue that it would be rather boring. It is noted that the process of learning takes time. However, once the children learn the process they would prefer this process. Besides, the second time when they gather for election, it will be easier and faster. In fact as all children are actively engaged and curious to know the result, it can hardly be said to be boring. It is for them an interesting novelty.

  2. When changes are made and reasons for change or suggestion is made would they not hurt them whose votes are taken away? The answer is that the process presupposes certain formation in sociocratic process and non-violent communication. In particular when a fresh choice is made the reason should never be comparison e.g. ANITHA does not say “… I prefer Pradeep because he is a better leader than Kavitha” This would hurt because it is a comparison. Bearing in mind that she is electing a person for leadership of the group she must say e.g. “I have heard especially from Chandra that Pradeep had been a class leader” The emphasis is on leadership not on Pradeep or Kavitha.

  3. Would not the people who “lost” like Kavitha and Pramod be hurt? In fact during the process the chances are that those who received less number of votes might have also received numerous positive strokes. Such a process initially throws up names of potential leaders. For example, during the subsequent elections say to Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Minister of Finance etc. Kavitha and Pramod are likely to be elected. The aim of the election is not the honour of individuals but the common good of the parliament which needs a person to look after a concern. Please note when the Facilitator announced a round of applause he or she said “let us give OURSELVES a round of applause” The members are congratulated not the one elected. The victory belongs to all.



Contact Information

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