Why should i vote today in the EU elections??

Today, 4th June 2009, is the 20th anniversary of Tianamen Square. Even if you are disgusted or disaffected with the political process here and just could not be bothered, remember that ordinary citizens in China were imprisoned, beaten, and killed for the simple act of asking for democratic reform. Something we are so blasé about here in the West.

All round the world people are beaten, imprisoned, and killed for merely speaking out about the idea of having the right to vote.
Voting in the UK is voluntary. You don't have to vote if you don't want to, but then that is an abdication of your civic responsibility of partaking in the system of democracy you live in.

We take this process for granted. Strangely, i think we were more aware of the need to vote during the darker times in Northern Ireland's history, but as we move into a more stable society where ideologies are fought over the debating chambers and not the hedge rows we begin to relax and feel a lesser need to take part.

This is a real danger. People who do not vote will begin to feel cut off from the decision making process and further alienate themselves from democratic activities. Elected politicians have shareholders who they must give a good account to, but to strengthen that accountability process the shareholders (voters) must participate.

Political parties and elected representatives also has a responsibility to engage with their constituents and voters to maintain a connection. Just like web 2.0 is about a two way communication process, rather than web 1.0 which was about a one way movement of information, so too we must move away from Politics 1.0 and into a more discursive Politics 2.0 where there is more of a two way relationship between the elected representative and the constituent. But that can be a debate for another day.

What i would really love to see on the ballot papers would be an option, clearly marked, at the bottom of the paper as 'None of the above'. At least then we would give those disaffected people an option to actively give their views in a way that can be quantified whilst getting them into the way of going to vote.

All i can do is ask you all to go and vote, remember those who have given their all for the right to vote, and be an active citizen holding our elected representatives to account.

Oh, and bring your photographic identification as well.


Anonymous said...

Problem really is the lack of talent amongst the NI political classes. The Orange/Green split is going to linger á la albatross around the ancient mariner, with MLAs forever lingering like a bad taste at the wedding party that marks the marriage of people and policy makers.

Without Assemvbly briefing papers, researchers, policy officers and briefings from lobbyists and charities most couldn't find their way out of a toilet cubicle without directions.

Worse is their own sense of self-importance.

Some have begun to use web2.0 but too many aren't thinking through how to use it to engage the populace.

Young people are becoming disengaged, disinterested and are less likely than ever to become involved in politics at local or national level.

I despair, but will still vote today...but I wonder: am I doing it out of commitment to the political process or is it a habit I just can't shake!

Ivor Whitten on 12:37 pm said...

Cannot disagree with your analysis Anon.

The big thing is for politicians to move to politics 2.0 - whether this actually involves web 2.0 or not. Weekly canvasses around the constituency would greatly enhance their presence and listening opportunities.

Their expertese issues are not a huge issue for me. Politicans have to make decisions on a whole range of policies, legislation and constituency issues. The network around them is there to help give them some sense of what is at stake. We can't be an expert in everything.

Well done though for at least going to the polls. Maybe there will be a day where you can happily go to the polls.


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