Laws that address elections and the legislative process can have a major influence on the degree to which citizens participate in their government. The Catechism of the Catholic Church pays tribute to “those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of the citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom,” (par. 1915). This theme is taken up in more detail in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, in which it is stated:
Participation in community life is not only one of the greatest aspirations of the citizen, called to exercise freely and responsibly his civic role with and for others, but is also one of the pillars of all democratic orders and one of the major guarantees of the permanence of the democratic system. Democratic government, in fact, is defined first of all by the assignment of powers and functions on the part of the people, exercised in their name, in their regard and on their behalf. It is therefore clearly evident that every democracy must be participative. This means that the different subjects of civil community at every level must be informed, listened to and involved in the exercise of the carried-out functions,” (par. 190).
In regards to the legislation filed this year, many questions arise. Some argue limits on campaign spending or lobbyist contributions curtail free speech and inhibit citizen involvement in their government. Others suggest that without such limits well-funded special interests obtain an unfair advantage in influencing legislators to the detriment of the effective participation of ordinary citizens.
Posted: January 17, 2014