In a constitutional democracy, elections are important, but not because of what they think the proponents of unlimited democracy do. This is reflected in the context of the House Committee on 6 January and in the light of the recent announcement by the President of Brazil, Jail Balsonaro. Bolsonaro fears losing Brazil’s upcoming election and suggests he could be the victim of electoral fraud, he suggests, as Trump did (“Biden backs down on diminishing US influence in Latin America at summit”). The Wall Street JournalJune 9, 2016):
Mr Biden held one-on-one meetings with Mr Bolsonaro later on Thursday, a close ally of Mr Trump who was one of the latest world leaders to recognize Mr Biden’s victory. A
“It’s the American people who talk about it (election fraud). I will not discuss the sovereignty of another country. But Trump was doing really well. [Mr. Bolsonaro] When asked earlier this week if he believed Mr Biden’s victory was a fraud.
Bolsonaro is preparing to pursue the same tactics as the former American president, as Trump did – and regularize political regimes in backward countries. In fact, Trump suggested before the 2016 election and even before the 2020 election that he would recognize the results if he won. Bolsonaro also suggests that the election results be valid only if he wins:
Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly criticized the country’s electoral system ahead of the October presidential election. Polls show that he is currently ahead of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ahead of the vote.
In a constitutional democracy (as James Buchanan emphasizes “constitutional”) elections are not important because they express the “will of the people”. This kind of thing doesn’t exist because people who create “people” have different tastes, values and desires (see my article “The Impossibility of Democracy”). Independent review, Summer 2021). And elections are not important because of any divine right of the majority. In contrast, the only majority whose ideological significance is 100% majority, that is, unanimous consent; Democracy is only approximated, in a sense Calculus of consent.)
In a constitutional democracy, elections are important for one reason: they allow for a peaceful transfer of power. One could also say that elections have symbolic significance because they remind rulers that all citizens are formally equal and that their consent is equally required.
Once a certain proportion of voters think that the job of the electorate is to choose God on earth, instead of vetoing the wicked if necessary, it follows dangerous consequences. First, any defeated candidate for a God-on-Earth job will firmly claim that he has won, especially if he thinks he has embodied the people. How can people vote against themselves without fraud? Second, the election will only stop their main game if it does not work.
One objection to my argument can be made as follows: Granting that, in backward or backward countries, defeated candidates would succumb to the temptation to accuse fraud, why in our present developed countries, America? And not in Europe? Why, for example, did Charles de Gaulle not claim that his 1969 referendum was stolen instead of resigning? Is it simply because Europeans generally believe in unlimited democracy but not in personal power? A related question: Why in the French election, citizens living abroad are encouraged to vote on the Internet, not by mail-in ballot, and (so far) no defeated candidate is responsible for the loss of these votes?