Saturday, May 07, 2011

We need both AV and compulsory voting

It looks as though the Alternative Vote will be given a resounding raspberry.

A shame, because we may soon see radical policies in Scotland on the "mandate" of a majority party that has won overt support from less than 25% of eligible voters.

Here, thanks to The Guardian's Datablog, are the results of the Scottish Assembly Elections, expressed as a percentage of the electorate, 49.64% of whom abstained:

This is hardly the basis on which Mr Salmond can feel justified in reversing the Highland Clearances, or whatever he plans to do with the systemically-distorted power he is set to wield.

The Celtic Twilight is perhaps better represented by the party I call (with apologies to Dylan Thomas) "Fforeggub" - which has just put in a storming performance in my own ward's local council election, garnering over two-thirds of the potential vote. This democratic failure has ousted the nice Lib Dem lady (I voted UKIP, on principle) in favour of the Labour bod, who got less than 16% of the franchise:

In an increasingly divided and crisis-beset country, I'd argue that we need not only the Alternative Vote but (as I said last month) mandatory voting.

For me, a spoiled ballot is spoilt behaviour, and an abstention is a moral abdication. It is not a worthy exercise of your liberty to surrender liberty itself. The blasé line "Don't vote, it only encourages them" is exactly wrong: the failure to vote empowers and emboldens those who squabble to grab the country out of each other's hands and play recklessly with it.


Joseph Takagi said...

The problem isn't getting people not voting. It's having something worth voting for.

What you see is that FPTP systems deliver woeful levels of turnout across the world, quite consistently. The US, Canada and the UK are all at about 60%. Countries with alternative systems like Germany, Austria and Ireland score consistently higher.

Sackerson said...

Thanks, Joseph. Care to make that point over on "Orphans of Liberty" site?

James Higham said...

Possibly a little late to be hoping for that, Sackers.