R12 Political participation

Political Rights

Each person should be able to participate freely in the social and political life of their country. According to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, men and women have the same rights and responsibilities. We read in the Bible that in God’s eyes we are all equal. We should also be equal with regard to the law and political expression.

Each adult should have freedom to choose their political leaders at regional and national level. However, in many countries people are denied this choice. In countries where people are allowed to vote and choose their leaders, their choice may be limited, particularly if a government is unpopular. This can be subtle – making registration complicated, restricting polling stations, forcing people to return to their home areas to vote or making threats if they support the opposition. It can also be more open – preventing or delaying elections, limiting the choice of candidates, falsifying results, restricting access to UN observers, closing polling stations in areas where most opposition supporters live, preventing opposition parties from forming or meeting and sometimes even arresting or killing key opponents.

Discussion 
  • Read Isaiah 52:7-10. How does this passage describe those people who seek to bring good news and peace in verse 7?
  • This passage describes such people as coming on foot. Often the walk to bring about peace and justice is a long hard one. How can we share in this walk to freedom?
  • Who identifies and encourages possible future leaders? Can we play more of a part in this?
  • Do we have leaders like this who give people hope and encouragement? Are they political or religious leaders?
  • Does verse 10 give us hope for the future? Is our church playing a role in bringing this about?
  • Are all adult men and women allowed to choose the political leaders in our country? If not, what prevents this? What could improve the process of choosing political leaders in our country? What role does the church play in encouraging and enabling people to choose political leaders?
  • If people in our country are able to vote, are there any factors that make it difficult for people to go against the policies of the ruling government?
  • Does our country have free and accountable opposition parties?
  • What access do people with disabilities have to polling stations? Are there other systems to help them to vote?
  • Are UN observers given free and open access to observe election procedures in our country?

Articles 20, 21 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights