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What Is The Role Of Public Opinion In A Democracy?

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In a democracy, opinion is an active, propelling factor. The opinion of a people is made up of different views or currents of sentiments in a society, some currents, one writer says "develop more strength them others, because they have behind them large numbers or more intensity of conviction; and when one is evidently the strangest, it begins to be called public opinion par excellence being taken to embody the views supposed to be held by the bulk of the people".

Public opinion is thus on opinion which a people in general hold on questions of common interests at a certain time. All opinions, points out Lowell, involve a choice between different views which may be rational, or based on conviction, or these may proceed from feeling and emotion of the various agencies that help in the formulation of public opinion.

The opinion of a community is seldom unanimous, George Cornwall Lewis points out how there appears to be no alternative to counting the numbers and abiding the opinion of the majority. According to A.B.Lowell, the success of this somewhat mechanical method depends upon the minority of accepting the validity of decision, after a full and free discussion. Unless there is an ungrudging acceptance of the consequence of electoral decision, consensus would disappear and the democratic system undermined or up set.

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