6.8.3.1 Allowing People to Communicate with those in Power

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6831.htm)

If people are to be able to influence their governance, they need ways of raising issues with those in power; there are at least three options:

  • People can put unsolicited pressure directly on those who hold power (6.4.2.1).
  • They can express their views during formal consultation (6.5.3).
  • Governments can get feedback on people’s reaction to their policies, through media reporting and Internet comment (6.4.3).

Governments should see communication from the public as more of a help than a threat.   They need to know what people want in order to be responsive, and they have to be responsive in order to survive:

  • Democratic governments have to take account of public opinion, or they will lose the next election.
  • Authoritarian governments depend upon satisfying people’s expectations if they are to retain power in the medium-to-long term.

Feedback from the public has to include the possibility of criticism if governments wish to be fully informed; communication is of no value if it is censored, or if people fear reprisals for expressing unpalatable opinions.  Freedom of speech in politics is the subject of the next section (6.8.3.2).

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