Legitimately elected legislatures and appointed executives command a high level of authority in the current system of governance. Over time, they have proven useful in creating positive and beneficial policies during significantly difficult situations. As a result, the current structure of democratic governments comprising the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches appears to be in its optimal state. However, from the perspective of progress, it is important to challenge ideals and principles that have grown to be a part of the status quo. These institutes pride themselves on being accountable to their subjects, however, they lack a concrete way to actually maintain or measure this accountability until the end of the ruling body’s term. This leads to short-term pursuits of power, which are sometimes characterized by bigoted personal agendas, bogus development claims, and belligerent defiance of reasoning. Constructing a fourth constitutional arm of the government that pushes those in impactful positions to make evidence-based policies and logic-driven decisions and constantly track their progress against administrative goals would further strengthen democratic institutions around the world.
With every new government comes a new agenda of growth and development. Representatives and political parties get elected with an expectation that the new set of political leaders would identify critical issues, set ambitious targets, adopt feasible solutions, and make optimum use of resources in achieving these objectives. In some cases, providing an empty canvas to the newly elected legislatures to draft their own version of development plans on has swayed the government’s focus from more important issues to less crucial ones. Evidence of such deviation from practical needs are apparent in both developed and developing nations. For instance, in India, there are legislatures who are enthusiastically pursuing a divisive communal agenda because of their personal beliefs. In the United States, there are legislatures who are pushing against sustainable development reforms because of their individual financial interests. Neither of these motives is reflective of objective thinking and inclusive national interests. In other cases, the inability to track the exact progress of governors’ policies and their associated impact has resulted in diminished alacrity to respond to public issues and increased ambiguity of their accountability to those who elected them. Hence, leaders lack motivation to pursue reforms and development initiatives aggressively and wisely. This could also be an indicator of potential avenues of corruption and inefficiency in the system of governance. These issues present themselves as grave matters of concern in relatively newer or unstable democracies and regions with lower levels of development. Failing to identify such inefficacies not only prohibits growth, but also questions the effectiveness of democratic institutions.
While free flow of information through various media and public litigation platforms has assisted in advancing the role of accountability, it has not realized its fullest potential for the following key reasons: while media platforms are vulnerable to financial and ideological influences, public grievance record systems shift the responsibility of accountability onto the citizens to inform themselves and subsequently make better decisions in the next election cycle. The solution exists in constructing a new branch of the government that surveys the current requirements and resources of the country or state, develops measurable and broad metrics of development, seeks periodic progress updates from other branches of the government, and delivers comprehensive reports to the citizens. This body would be dually tasked to not only report information to the legislature and the executive office, but also track their response to the shared knowledge. Under its constitutional powers this organization would be able to access the existing government machinery of most, if not all, departments in order to reach comprehensive conclusions. With the swearing in of the new administration, the aforementioned progress secretariat comes into action and presents its findings including key challenges, national and regional goals, popular public expectations, and electoral promises of the elected party. As a next step, the government is expected to respond with a detailed plan-of-action and a set of goals it aims to achieve in a particular governing period. This gives the government the ability to create its own metric and standard to which it should be held accountable to throughout its term. However, these goals are flexible and those in public offices would have opportunities to reform the measurement scale in the wake of newer evidence or information. While the usual business continues, the organization would regularly analyze the administration’s progress targets, methods, and potential impacts in excruciating detail. The continual review process will be used to provide constant feedback and suggestions of improvement.
It must be understood that this body, in its structure or purpose, is not similar to the planning commissions instituted in several countries that dictate national policies and leave little room for innovation and contributions from non-governmental factors. Neither is it similar to the periodic development plans used in the past by countries such as USSR, India, and China. In order to properly reflect diversity of opinion and ideology, the origination should be structured based on the level of governance, size of population, and complexity of the issues. It must also be ensured that along with regimented bureaucracy and scholarship, thought leaders and reformers from all spheres of the society are included in this overlooking tributary of the government. As this body is not directly elected by universal franchise, the development agenda that this organization lays out is an evidence-based guideline that may or may not be followed by the legislative assembly and executive members. It is also important to note that the body’s motive is not fully accomplished until it relays the information back to the masses. This association would regularly analyze the government efforts and issue encyclopedic progress reports and information sets for easy comprehension of complex issues among common people. In this manner it fulfils its purpose by formalizing the process of mapping governance and enhancing traceability into political decision-making.
Expanding the government framework by including an overarching body of information without augmenting the total exercisable authority is beneficial to the democratic system of governance in several ways. It provides a comprehensive national advancement metric, which exhibits real-time tracking of what factors play key roles in the progression of a region. This is crucial to direct political science to move forward in its most literal sense – natural selection of the successful traits of a system would occur based on evidence, data, and reason, while outmoded, unrealistic traits would be replaced. Progressive agendas could be enforced with greater strength and an increased transparency into governance and the surrounding politics. Additionally, such a system would be beneficial in systematic scrutiny of political programs deviated from suggested paths and targeted towards ill-motivated or irrational goals. However, the design ensures that in no way the functioning of this body compromises political liberty and innovation. Over a period of time, such programs would have a positive impact on general and political awareness of the masses and induce an atmosphere of rationality among voters. Issue and approach-based electoral contests would come to the forefront, and the politics of race and religion would take a back seat. Commonly used campaign tactics such as exploitation of prejudices among the masses and distribution of freebies and election SOPs would have a diminishing impact on an increasingly educated and aware electorate. Therefore, the system would methodologically favor the selection and sustenance of a rational, flexible, and legitimate government.
The foundation of this new constitutional unit is only a scratch at the surface of upcoming democratic needs. There are endless opportunities for improving decision-making processes and enhancing the interaction between governors and those who are being governed. Instituting a structural change that strengthens the good elements in the system is characteristic of an exploratory nature of democracy and a dynamically sensitive system of governance. With this body and several other political order revolutions, we are actively moving towards developing a political utopia.
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