The recent police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections and the Corby by-election in the UK has once again raised the issue of supposed voter apathy.
The lowest turnout was 11.6% with the average being 15%. The turnout for the by-election was 44.8% (which includes spoiled votes).
While all will agree that the PCC turnout was awful and an investigation is underway some have said the 44.8% for Corby wasn’t too bad.
The question is what percentage makes a legitimate vote? Surely if less than 50% turnout then there is no mandate to represent the constituency.
So, what is the problem?
Lack of awareness? Lack of details and/or explanation? General voter apathy? All have been banded about and some have of course said that it’s a combination but one thing that has been lacking has been any real idea of a solution.
In order to legitimise the elections and confirm that we really do live in a democracy (don’t get me started on the monarchy and house of lords) more than 50% of the constituency must vote for a party (either as first choice or second etc) so really for this to happen everyone must vote (otherwise anyone getting elected would be almost impossible).
If compulsory voting was implemented it must be in conjunction with an option for ‘none of the above’. One of the potential reasons for the low turnouts of recent years could be purely that all the options are crap and genuinely don’t represent peoples views and opinions. If this is the case then through the ballot it must be found out so that it can be rectified as soon as possible.
Compulsory voting made easy and convenient (think chip & pin and/or internet banking) with an option for ‘none of the above’ using the single transferable vote (STV) electoral system.
As most will know in the UK we have for the first time having election debates televised live (on the 15th April, 22nd April and the 29th April 2010).
For those who keep up with the news will know that from some corners there has been a lot of anger and disgrace over these debates.
The loudest shouts have been coming from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru (PC) but also from the UK’s 4th largest party the United Kingdon Independence Party (UKIP) and the 6th largest the Green Party of England & Wales.
“The allocation of party political and election broadcasts is determined mainly on the basis of the parties electoral strength and the number of seats they are contesting.”
Strength: SNP are in government in Scotland, PC are in jointly in the Welsh assembly.
Seats Contested: The Green Party and UKIP are standing in around 50% of constituencies.
The SNP will get a Scottish live debate as will PC in Wales however it goes without saying that the coverage will be much smaller.
As has been seen with the live debates that the Liberal Democrats have seen a surge in the polls, including the likes of the others could have radically change the face of the political system in the UK
There was a time when they would be ignored, they were of no interest or consequence to the main parties. Now however they are starting to sit up and start to ridicule the Green Party of England & Wales with Green Party leader Caroline Lucas stating “Nick Clegg is kidding himself if he thinks he can sell Lib Dem policies to Green voters” Clegg claimed “I am absolutely confident that we have the most radical and bold set of environmental policies of any party in British politics”.
A clear sign that the Green Party are moving away from the fringes to challenge the old guard of British politics.
This is of course very understandable considering that from the 1997 general election where the Greens got a mere 61,731 votes to the 2001 general election where they got 166,477 votes and in the 2005 election 257,758 votes.
The Green Party represent more than just environmental politics but the only credible libertarian left-wing party.
People in the UK are starting to see clearly that the continuing economic wealth is not being translated to quality of life and standard of living. The UK along with many western countries have hit the point where ever growing GDP is not a an indicator of quality of life with rich/poor gaps ever widening, crime rates falling yet prison populations increasing.
Policies such as replacing the house of lords with a fully elected second chamber, not renewing the contracts for rail companies bringing them back under public ownership, bringing dentistry back in with the rest of the NHS and creating jobs through the renewable energy sector is likely to find favour with more than just the eco-warriors but as well the average voter.