Importance of Public Opinion

Importance of Public Opinion

Some of the reasons why public opinion is important in every society are as follows:

1. Public Opinion Serves as the Foundation of Democracy:

Sovereignty of the people, which is the very basis of democracy, really means supremacy of the public opinion. In every democracy, the government and its policies are continuously based on public opinion. The government remains in power so long as it is backed by public opinion.

2. Public Opinion is a Device of Effective Control Over the Government:

Public opinion is the most effective instrument of control over the government. The government is really responsible to public opinion.

3. Public Opinion Determines Election Results:

In every election only that political party wins which enjoys the support of public opinion. The political party which gets the popular mandate to rule has to exercise power only in tune with public opinion. It has to go out of power when public opinion turns against it.

4. Public Opinion is a Major Source of Law:

The laws passed by the government are in-fact based upon public demands i.e. demands backed by public opinion. Hence, public opinion is a source of law.

5. Public Opinion is the Real Sanction Behind Law:

Not only public opinion is a source of law but also it is an important sanction behind law. Only those laws get successfully implemented and produce desired results, which are backed by public opinion.

6. Public Opinion is the Guardian of Rights and Freedoms:

Rights and Freedom of the people need protection. Public Opinion acts as their guardian. Alert public opinion is the greatest safeguard against any violation of rights and freedoms of the people.

7. Public Opinion is the Basis of State Policies:

The government of the state formulates its policies on the basis of the public opinion. All public policies are based on public opinion. The government is supposed to do everything which the public opinion demands.

8. Credibility of a Government Rests Upon Public Opinion:

A government backed by strong public opinion enjoys a high degree of credibility. It helps it to work effectively and strongly.

9. Public Opinion is the Agent of Social Change:

No law aimed at social change, no policy aimed at social reforms and no action aimed at development can be really successful unless it is backed by strong public opinion. Desired objectives of social change can be secured only by securing a public opinion distinctly favourable to proposed reforms and changes. As such in every society, public opinion is at the back of every activity of the government.

Realizing fully the importance of public opinion, J.S. Mill very strongly advocated the need for an absolutely free flow of public opinion in the society. He was certain that each opinion should be allowed to freely flow in the society as it is necessary for the emergency of a true public opinion. Laski was of the view that even during a period of war, freedom of public opinion should not be suppressed.

In case an opinion is backed by the people at large and it opposes war, the state has no right to continue the war, and in case the opinion is the opinion of only a minority, it cannot in any way adversely affect the outcome of war.

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