Elections lie at the heart of representative democracy. They are the primary means by which most voters connect with government, they provide the brief moment during which politicians and parties are supplicants rather than supervisors, and they serve as a competition for office and a means of holding the government to account. But election campaigns also provide an opportunity for a dialogue between voters and parties, and between society and state: ‘no part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fi ghting of elections’, claimed Winston Churchill. Competitive elections endow offi ce-holders with authority (contributing to the eff ectiveness with which leaders can perform their duties), and facilitate choice, accountability, dialogue, and legitimacy.
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