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What Is Political Abuse?

By Jan Fletcher
Updated May 23, 2024
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Political abuse occurs when politicians subvert the political process for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. This form of abuse may include political repression that subjugates the populace, enslaving citizens through unjust economic exploitation, or seizing property from citizens under authoritarian powers of the state. Political abuse often involves the unethical or illegal granting of favors to reward political supporters. Conversely, when directed against citizens, this form of abuse may also result in the repression of political opposition. Political abuse likely occurs in all countries, with influence peddling endemic to almost all societies.

Corrupt politicians engage in a variety of politically abusive behaviors in nations around the world. Influence peddling is one of the most common forms of political abuse, and typically involves a politician agreeing to support or oppose legislation in exchange for receiving favors that violate ethics laws. Another form of political abuse may occur when a political leader levies various sanctions against opponents. This may involve exclusion from certain types of employment, being excluded from college admission, or being publicly vilified as an enemy of the state.

Enforced exile is a form of political abuse. This occurs when a citizen who supports a particular political party or platform is forced to live in another city, or is even expelled from his or her homeland. Another form of political repression may occur when citizens who express disagreement with political policies are imprisoned. Often, some form of deprivation or torture accompanies the incarceration. It is considered political abuse because the politician gains power through exiling or imprisoning opposition that may otherwise arouse the public to expose political corruption and subsequently call for reforms.

Subjugation of a whole population may occur through political abuse, and is a more extreme example of political repression. This almost always requires police or military involvement, and violence on the part of authorities may be overtly or subversively used against a population. For example, if citizens decide to peacefully march in order to express their view that the nation's leaders should be chosen through an election instead of a succession policy, political leaders may choose to use military power to dissuade the advocates of political reform.

Economic exploitation is another common way that political powers are abused. For example, a nation's natural resources may be sold off to private industry, despite citizen opposition, because it benefits the politician. Enforcement of existing pollution laws may lag, due to political relationships. Securing cleanup funds for contaminated sites is often complicated by political considerations. Industrial operators in many areas sell rights to natural resources without fairly informing or compensating citizens for the loss of access to a vital community resource.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Mar 18, 2014

@ZipLine-- They should be but I guess that depends on the country and the circumstances.

In most countries, politicians engaging in manipulative actions or in corruption are forced to resign and are tried in court. If this politician is the president, then he may be impeached.

But every government of every country doesn't run this way. In countries with strict governance, such as dictatorships, the punishment may even be death. In other countries, where the judicial system is not very independent and strong, such politicians may get out of it scot-free. They may flee to another country and continue to live a lavish life.

By ZipLine — On Mar 17, 2014

What is the punishment for political abuse? Politicians who engage in this are eventually tried and punished correct?

By discographer — On Mar 17, 2014

Political abuse is very rampant in some countries. It is so widespread that citizens of such countries have almost accepted it. It is almost seen as "normal."

I think political abuse occurs because political parties become overwhelmed with power and because they do not want to serve everyone. Such parties only want to serve themselves and their supporters. So they polarize voters and constantly reinforce the idea of "us versus them." They show opposition as enemies that needs to be destroyed. Such parties also have the misconception that power is going to be with them forever. Or perhaps, they fear that they may lose power and so they go to extreme lengths to make sure that they will always stay on top. They don't mind buying votes and supporters and they don't mind manipulating and using the judicial system for their personal needs.

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