It’s an interesting notion, democracy, oft spouted by all and sundry, as to how it is so important in our lives, giving us the freedom to elect our own national representatives and leaders, or so it is thought.
Recently, with the elections coming up in the next couple of months, I’ve continuously overheard two opinions, both of which seem to go against the very notion of a democratic process. The first one, is the “If you are voting XXX stay at home” and the second being “Oh I’m voting XXX because if you vote or smaller parties, it is a wasted vote”.
To me, both of those notions are equally ridiculous, and completely undemocratic. Firstly, you are dismissing someone from following the democratic process merely because their opinion of who should be in power, differs from yours. Secondly, to infer to someone that their vote is wasted or not as useful as others, because it is not for one of the major parties, seems to indicate that only certain votes are valid.
Here in the UK, there are currently four major front runners for the general election, the Conservative party, the Labour party, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, all believe, that the UK remaining in Europe is the right choice. For a Euro-sceptic, only UKIP seems the valid choice, yet continuously, voters considering UKIP are told to “stay at home”, I found this attitude quite prevalent during the last bi-election.
The general consensus seems to be that the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, is unwanted, because his policies are nationalistic, and therefore racist and undesirable. Whether that is the case or not, I will not comment, as I would rather stay as impartial as possible to ensure that the commentary stays upon attitudes rather than my political leanings. This would then indicate that UKIP has some undesirable policies, but doesn’t every party have some policies that some of us would consider undesirable?
There seems to be a tradition here in the UK of voting for the same party that your family voted for, and to continue voting for them because “they are the ones I have always voted for”. Personally I have never understood that attitude, surely your vote should be based on the policies that align the most with your views on how society should be.
Personally, I usually take a look at what I consider to be the major issues needing to be dealt with at the time, and then look at the views of all the parties with regards to those issues, which would then in turn allow me to see which party do I agree with the most, and make my decision based on that.
I have never quite understood why some people are so partisan with their votes, even when the party they support no longer provides any policies they agree with. Why base your vote on tradition alone? Surely that in itself is a wasted vote, since it fails to represents your true thoughts on the current political landscape?
As it pertains to the smaller parties, yes I do understand that a small party may not necessarily end up in power come the general election, however to not vote for them purely because they are too small nullifies the purpose of democracy. Democracy allows us to have the right to vote for whoever we consider to be apt enough to be elected, regardless of the size of their party or their popularity, to refuse to vote for a smaller party because of their size, would surely remove some of the liberty behind the democratic purpose.
To me, to only consider a vote for a popular or major party, a proper vote, is what I would term as selective democracy. Wherein only the three major parties are considered worthy of a vote, meaning that there is no true change within the country’s leadership, considering that only the same three parties would rule ad infinitum.
Voting for a smaller party or the party who’s policies you agree with the most does not necessarily mean that we would get anything other than the major three or another coalition, it would mean however, that true democracy has been exercised, (especially in the case of voting for the policies you feel that represent your political stance) and perhaps a shift in the political paradigm, in which the political parties would construct policies that would truly represent the will of the populous, and enforce them once unelected, instead of the usual course of action, which is big promises, outlandish policies, and neither one enforced, enacted or even considered beyond the moment the electoral results are in.
Until next time.