After the 2009 and 2010 political scandals, would you vote?

Well, after a big build up on what was to come this weekend in the papers, it was a bit of a damp squib on one front and more disturbing on the other.

While it was a bit lacking on more scandal for the DUP, the heat was cranked up over the Adams family issue of who knew what, when and how it was handled. Susanne Breen, from the Sunday Tribune, interviews two women from two well known republican families on how they were sexually abused by republicans and of how that abuse was covered up by Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA. Accusations of abuse of any kind, especially of children, will begin to put real pressure on Sinn Féin and how it has handled the allegations, and whether or not they advised victims to go to statutory agencies.

With the debate on policing and justice ongoing, it could be an issue for the public on how they view the capability of any political party to take on the job of Justice Minister. I think the 'community confidence' is much wider than the DUP interpretation. Does anyone have the confidence that our politicians could take on the role now?

There seems to be cover-ups all over the place and how are the public supposed to react to elected representatives when the media shine a light on shady goings on over the past number of years? Being an elected representative is a privileged position of trust where the politician must act in a moral and ethical approach to the duties they have to perform. They should bear in mind thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in their business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. There is a fully functioning 'Code of Conduct (which i wrote about previously here)

The number of political scandals covering 2009 and 2010 so far does not seem to reflect the Codes of conduct. Nor will they instil trust in the electorate.

Political disengagement by the electorate is becoming a big danger.

So what would make anyone want to vote?

Well one solution is to make voting compulsory, as it is in Australia. Indeed it is a debate coming to the NI Assembly today.

Danny Kinahan (UUP MLA for South Antrim) has tabled
"That this Assembly notes the positive effect that compulsory voting has had on democracy in the Commonwealth of Australia; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to consider introducing similar rules for elections in the United Kingdom."
This could be a way to staunch the loss in voting habit.

I have supported this for notion for a long time, but with the important proviso that there is an option for 'None of the above' on the voting slip.

There have been long winded debates about people should be able to exercise the option of voting or not. It is illegal not to be on the electoral register, so why not move that debate on and extend the legislation to cover the actual issue of voting as well.

The big danger is that if voting numbers continue to decline, government will become more and more focussed on the issues of those who actually vote. Why would they waste resources on people who do not vote? A politician is not going to worry about a non-voter - why would they?

People need to, no matter what the current political climate, go out and vote. Even deliberately spoil their vote at the ballot box to show their disdain. Otherwise the representatives elected will reflect a more extreme view of an electorate who have strong enough held views to actually go out and vote.

Politics impinges on all our lives and we must engage to make a difference.



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