The Political Cultures Behind Politics – Latest News – The Nation
A political system in a country is influenced by and rooted in the political culture of the country. Political culture is the broad set of values and ways of doing things in politics. Often these are based on traditions, beliefs, attitudes and other things that form the overall culture(s) of a country. This means that political culture crosses political parties, although there may be specific forms that belong more to one party than another. In any case, it is important that political parties behave in a way that people like them, especially those who are their constituents and supporters. The reverse may also be the case, that people don’t like the way politicians behave, the issues they discuss, and the decisions they make. However, politicians depend on the interest and support of the people and voters for their work. His absence, even his lack of confidence, is feared by politicians.
In a young democracy, like Pakistan, the political culture is still shaping, more so than in older democracies, like Norway, my home country, and the United Kingdom, the country whose political system is certainly a model for many countries, also Pakistan; Neighboring India has a similar story, but at the same time is on its own way. The traditions of other countries, such as the superpower USA, are different and are not in the same way a model for Pakistan. China, the most important country in Asia, and soon to be the world’s largest economy, has a political tradition totally different from that of Western democracies.
So far, few countries have tried to emulate the Chinese political tradition, which however can be difficult if one is not Chinese. Yet many countries around the world admire China’s economic growth and the uplifting of millions of people from poverty to prosperity. Going forward, I think we will look more to China and learn from it when possible, and probably focus less on the negative aspects of its development and the lack of democratic participation. Since the West sees China as a challenge and a competitor to its economic and other leadership, there will still be plenty of criticism.
Russia is the largest country in the world by area; its natural resources are enormous, but the earth is sparsely populated with a total of 145 million people. In the future, Russia will (again) be a superpower, as seen in the Soviet era (1917-1989/91), and even earlier in the reign of the Tsar. But Russia has never had genuine democratic traditions. During the communist or socialist Soviet zone, there was international interest in how Russia organized its society, but not in its political culture and the way it made decisions. Generally, there was resentment, but it also had to do with the fundamental ideological differences between communism and capitalism, and propaganda on both sides, even on the side of the West.
More examples of different political traditions and cultures could have been given. Rather, I will insist on the fact that parties with different ideologies always operate within the same political culture or a similar political culture, with similar ways of thinking, of debating and of obtaining the results that they wish. Some of the means are specific to each political party, even with local variations from capital to regions and districts.
In many countries, especially Pakistan, the outcome of an election, with winners and losers, does not mean that the winners should be accepted and allowed to remain in power for the duration of their election, such as the five-year parliamentary term. . The opposition must keep the government on its toes, but it must also be a constructive opposition, not seeking to oust the winners from power. In Pakistan, the political culture is such that too much time and energy is spent on changing governments even during a legislature. A vote of no confidence should indeed be rare. I believe that far too much time has been spent on political politics to oust Imran Khan’s government from power; it took time for the real debates and the implementation of the decisions. But the political culture somehow called out the way the opposition behaved. Currently, while the situation is as it is, with the Shehbaz Sharif government in power, the opposition should “stand its case” and let the government rule until the next general election next fall, not lose time trying to overthrow him or calling for early elections. The contest and the verdict of the people will come in the elections. In the meantime, the opposition should strive to be constructive, yes, keeping the government on its toes, but also supporting it on key issues at a time of inflation, rising prices and difficult growing lives.
In all countries, there are important institutions outside parliament and government, so also in Pakistan. The judiciary is particularly important, ensuring that cases are carried out in accordance with laws, rules and regulations. Other key institutions are the civil service and the army. I believe Pakistan has a competent civil service, which should be politically neutral. Having had military rule for a good number of years after independence, the army also has a strong position in politics, but this role is expected to be reduced over time. It is the role of politicians and the political culture to refine these issues so that key institutions do not interfere with or lend themselves to the ordinary work of parliament and government. Here again, it is the parliamentarians who train the elected representatives and thus hold the power of the people, and the political culture must work to improve everyone’s work.
And yes, politicians need to improve their political culture when it comes to being more honest and principled. Politicians everywhere are good at “bargaining” and working in all sorts of ways to get the results they want. However, this must be done in a fair and acceptable manner. The political culture should not accept too much manipulation and dealing, which will lead, among other things, to a loss of trust in politicians.
Corruption of all kinds, which usually involves money, but there can also be intellectual corruption and must be reduced and eliminated. However, this can only happen if there are control mechanisms in place, based on the right political culture, and strong measures taken when corruption is discovered. In Norway there is little corruption and whoever gets caught loses to disgrace and is eliminated from high politics for long or for good. This year, several parliamentarians have been arrested for rather “petty corruption”, namely having unduly taken advantage of the travel and accommodation rules for parliamentarians. This led to serious consequences for those who were captured. However, what was more serious was that it seemed grounded in a political culture, where it was almost considered acceptable to bend the rules in your favor.
Finally, today, since I have drawn attention to several negative aspects of political culture, let me emphasize that there are also many positive things in the political cultures of all countries, and only the people themselves, politicians and voters can make systems work better – and we must always work to improve the political culture in our democracy. In all countries, it is important to strengthen good traditions and create greater participation and trust for our democracy and politicians.