PM to Unveil Voting Reform Plan, the headline launched itself from the screen and affixed itself to my gaze. Hooray, my brain celebrated, not a moment too soon! If you think my previous post was a rant on the political system in this country, it was nothing compared to what I was yelling about over dinner, in the car, to anyone within hearing range for the last few days. It's taken me a while to compose my thoughts into a coherent posting, and reader will have to judge for themselves, but I'm pretty certain I haven't finished yet.
I said in my last post "at least I can trust the electoral process that gets them into office" but after Sunday's result at the European elections, I'm starting to wonder if I really can. The BNP managed to get not one, but TWO seats in the EU parliament. Needless to say there's pretty much universal dismay at this, but really there's only the electoral system to blame.
The BNP have managed to represent themselves as a mainstream party, but the fact is the majority of people did not vote for them. The majority of people didn't vote at all. I'm not the only person to have noticed this, so why, oh why, isn't the principle of compulsory voting a key pillar of the government's review of the voting system (this article describes the options under consideration)? First past the post would work, the alternative vote system, the version of proportional voting used in Northern Ireland and Scotland, all of these options would be fair if only 100% of the electorate voted!
I've heard only one arguement against compulsory voting. It's an infringment of your democrating right not to vote if you don't want to. This is the biggest load of do-do (with respect) for one simple reason. If you expect to have the right, you're obliged to exercise it for the good of your society. If you don't, you're no better than a hermit or a prisoner or anyone else who opts out of society. Contribute, for goodness sake! Don't expect to get all the benefits without putting some effort in! At least if 100% of the electorate votes, you know the candiate with the most votes is the one most people voted for and the electorate will really get the government they deserve.
I also believe in a non-compulsory system those that don't vote are those that really need to vote. They are the less well-educated, the disenfranchised, low-earners. They don't see how politics affects them because they've never had it explained to them, yet they are the most adversely affected when people who don't care about them get elected. The candidates don't care about the opinions of those who didn't vote because they didn't vote, so they're not going to fight for their issues.
Finally, a compulsory system is more democratic because it ensures governments are at all times held accountable to the elecotrate. In the US, they try to limit the power of the president by ensuring he can't serve more than two terms. This takes away the democratic right of the electorate to vote in the candidate they want! How ridiculous for the so-called Land of the Free. In the UK, there has only been one change of governement in the last 30 years. Until 1997 Conservatives had been in power for 18 years and now we've had 12 years of Labor. There may well be elections every 4 years, but the system means we get the same pollys year after year after year.
By way of comparison, Australia has a compulsory electoral system with preferrential voting and proportional representation. Voters can chose whether to vote for a party or individual candiates. They can decide where their preferences should go. The Lower House (equivalent to the Commons) is elected every 4 years, half the Senate (or House of Lords) every 6 years. The system may be more complex, but it's widely recognised as being one of the fairest and most representative systems in the world. Quite apart from elections being a lot more interesting, the result is a national government that most people voted for.
Aussies complain just as much about untrustworthy politicians as anyone else, but at least we all voted for them ;-)
Dearest reader, thank you so much for reading my latest babblings all the way to the end. I'm happy to have got all this off my chest, but I would really be interested in your comments on this. Am I just being Aussie-centric, or do my arguements strike a chord? Did you vote this time? If you didn't, please vote next time!
For posterity... - Ok, so this blog entry is more for me than you, so feel free to skip over the boring bits. To make it easier, I'll make the non-boring bits *red*. So the ...
1 month ago