We are at an age where democracy is the governance model that leading western countries adopt and attempt to introduce around the world – sometimes by force (Afghanistan, Iraq) and sometimes by political or economic pressure (Cuba). Let’s not forget the amount of interest that the recent Iran election has sparked.
Democracy for me means that individuals (adults) who belong to a country through birth right or citizenship may exercise their consent on who should govern that country for the next four years. Each person is entitled to only one vote and the leader is established by the majority of the people.
There are people inside compulsory voting countries that would prefer to have voluntary voting on the grounds that this would make politicians work harder and become more reliable.
Isn’t it strange?
I find it ironic that in countries where dictatorships have ruled in the past, people are now asking for voluntary voting (Chile in mind). While the country was in dictatorship, people wanted a chance to choose the government and be able to change it. Now they want the right to not choose a government.
Many people who are unsatisfied with the major political parties, sabotage their vote on election day by making their vote invalid. This is disappointing as the elector (who is clearly unsatisfied) instead of holding a government accountable, lets this opportunity go by.
If voluntary voting were introduced, what benefits would it bring about? US and UK have voluntary voting, are their governments better or more accountable than Australia’s, who has 92% voting turnout on election day?
Why I don’t like it
The problem I have with voluntary voting is the following: The candidates and their political parties would only target the groups that have a tendency to vote – this being the educated and/or the upper class population of the country. (I’m speculating that the lower classes or people without much education would not bother voting)
This means that both major political parties will target these populations because they are the ones with the power. When in government, they will make decisions that will affect the WHOLE country while only representing the interests of a big (but limited) group.
Let’s look at the US
The 2008 US presidential election had a voter turnout of approximately 57% (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html). We all like to believe that America has a democracy, meaning that majority of citizens elect the government. Well if 57% of the eligible population voted, and 52.9% voted for Obama, then a bit over 29% of the elegible population voted for the current president. So 29% of Americans who could of voted, elected Obama. Was Obama then elected by the majority? Yes, but not in the way we understand democracy.
In conclusion, voting is a right. It’s a right that many people in smaller countries around the world wish they had. Let’s not take it for granted, appreciate the opportunity to vote. The current politicians may not be the best but let’s face it, they will never be satisfactory enough.
I am not into writing negative or critical posts but I thought this was timely after the recent Iran election controversy and all the outrage it has caused in Western countries (with people) who are suddenly interested in freedom in other places.