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We could treat the EU elections as a referendum.

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Learning, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    As a non British Subject (although I have the legal right to a United Kingdom passport) may I give my opinion as a distant observer?

    Firstly, I don't think democracy works very well - there are no qualifying criteria to having voting rights other than an accident of birth (where we are born) and not having been sufficiently dumb, or lucky enough, to have survived for 18 years. A significant proportion of the electorate do not have the mental capacity to comprehend, evaluate or decide (based on a considered evaluation of the real/pertinent facts) on most elections, never mind a subject as complicated as to whether to remain or leave the EU. This is not a dilemma unique to the UK - it applies to all democracies (including the Republic of Ireland, where I live).

    IMHO, the people who are best qualified to make such difficult decision, irrespective of their leaning (pro/con) are the ones most likely to be apathetic to the whole discussion, as they have no faith in the capabilities or moral validity of most of our elected representatives or even the entire process.

    It is my belief that apathy is the enemy of democracy - that the most capable of making a considered evaluation are the least interested in participating in the electoral process. Because they see the majority of elected representatives as being unfit for purpose (I have had the misfortune to know several senior politicians as they grew up - if they had a brain cell it would be lonely). But they are, as the Irish would say, cute whores!

    I do not believe that democracy can work without it being a legal requirement for all citizens who are entitled to vote to be are obliged, by law, to exercise their right.

    Too many people forget that with every right comes a responsibility. If you have the right to vote, then you have the obligation to use it.

    That would cast a different perspective on any potential votes - not just on this subject.

    Rant over!
    proseak and steveandthedogs like this.
  2. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Not sure what the experience is in places that have that law, does anyone know? My guess is it would add a big random factor, with a lot of people who have no real understanding of the issues, or much caring about the outcome, casting frivolous votes based on the most simplistic and one-dimensional arguments. I think campaigning would possibly have to become far more populist and divisive. I'm applying a logic that would probably be a strategic solution in advertising if trying to persuade an apathetic and uncommitted section of consumers.

    Think back to what "Tell Sid" did for BG privatisation. Said nothing, but said it outstandingly well and people who would never have invested ordinarily, shelled out the lolly.

    But I think there is no such thing as a no vote. Every vote, or abstention expresses a POV.
  3. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    As I see it, FPTP in GB doesn't exactly encourage thinking about the issues and/or democracy. Too many 'safe seats' and too many voters on 'auto-pilot' - we've always voted this way- to say nothing of the general situation where the opposition parties often collectively receive more votes than the 'winning' one and where less than 40% of the total votes cast are enough to create a government majority. Add to that too many politicians whose first responsibilty is apparently to themselves, then the party. The country is at best an ' also ran'.

  4. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Proportional representation seems to me to be much worse as you get tiny minorities entrenched in the legislature. Look at the situation they have in Israel where the tiny minorities of the insane religious thwart all efforts to produce a peaceful settlement and have now decided that only jews (for a given definition of "jew") can be proper Israelies. :rolleyes:
  5. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Don't look as far as Israel. Stick with the UK. In the Con/Lib coalition neither party got 100% of its wishes - and that's the nature of a coalition - and didn't the Libs suffer for it! Look at today where the Cons have been in thrall to the DUP (not just over Brexit) and we have a tiny party trying to wag the dog.

    Broadening the argument it seems to me that PR frequently, almost inevitably, leads to coalitions and the electorate will have no idea in advance what those coalitions might be. They therefore don't know what they might be voting for.

    Was it Churchill that made the 'least worst' comment?

  6. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Can't find a lot of detail.

    From https://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/beyond-turnout-consequences-compulsory-voting


    From http://www.pp.ethz.ch/research/compulsory-voting.html
  7. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    A proportional system doesn't have to be like that - here, for instance, we have a requirement for a party to reach 5% of the vote, or gain an electorate seat, before they are appointed to parliament.
    Zou likes this.
  8. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Australia combines compulsory voting, with a preferential system of voting - the voter ranks their preferences in order, and these are distributed if no candidate reaches a majority on the first preference.
  9. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    There are other arguments for FPTP. First it's simple. Reading Adrian's post in which he says , " A significant proportion of the electorate do not have the mental capacity to comprehend, evaluate or decide......." it seems that simplicity may well be a virtue.

    Next we (in theory at least) vote for a person. I know my MP. I can study how he votes on certain issues. He represents a particular party and so I know the likely 'direction of travel' and I know how well he's performed in respect of his constituency (well as it happens) .

    I think that, on balance, I'd prefer to keep the system we have.

    SqueamishOssifrage likes this.
  10. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I have an electorate MP, in our proportional system - I could visit her office if I desired. The list MPs elected under our proportional system usually "adopt" electorates, as well, so they aren't unknown faces. Our proportional system means we no longer have travesties like the 1978 and 1981 elections here, where the National party won a majority of electorates, with a minority of the popular vote.
    Zou likes this.
  11. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Do you know who will adopt you before you vote? (Forgive my ignorance). It seems to me to be important that you do.

    In my case the person, rather than the party, has decided my vote on a number of occasions. I have to say typically at local rather than national level.

    As an example there's a guy standing in the upcoming local elections who is the prime mover towards the Council spending tens of millions on what many of us think of as a vanity project. In these tough times we think that project should not happen. It so happens that he's standing in my local area and so I won't vote for him although he stands for the party that I (probably) would otherwise support. Many of my friends feel the same. They argue that if he (the individual) is not elected the project will probably die. They further argue that even if this (preferred party) candidate fails there's enough support for the preferred party elsewhere in the borough for them to get what they want - an end to this individual and his spending plans and still get the preferred party running the Borough.

    It remains to be seen whether we are right!!

    Catriona likes this.
  12. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    But your first quote is exactly what I would expect to see. Greater randomisation due to sensitivity to trivial or short-term issues and generally less "considered" voting. Overall, probably not constructive at all, just satisfy a slightly obsessive desire for "completeness".
  13. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    In Germany I basically have 2 votes for the national election- one for the person and one, much more important, for the party list. For a person or party to be successfully elected they have to pass a 5% hurdle, which spares us the situation in Israel.
    Local authority voting is much more complicated - I have a lot of votes which I can more or less allocate at will - a person, more than one person even if they're different parties, one list, more lists. It all depends upon what I know and feel about the candidates, lists, etc.

    John Farrell and steveandthedogs like this.
  14. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Our national electoral system is closely based on the German system, and our local system sounds similar, too.
  15. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    One knows who is standing for each electorate - there are 64 general electorate seats, and 7 Maori electorate seats. The other 49 seats are list seats, and although the lists are publicised before the election, it isn't possible to say who will be elected for each party off the list - that depends on the party vote, and other factors....it is possible to stand for an electorate and be on the list, as well.
  16. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Yup, one source suggests the idea that a short term 'enforced voting' period doesn't become self sustaining either, people stop as soon as they are no longer forced to vote so it doesn't even change core behaviour.
  17. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

  18. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    It's difficult to argue with that. :(
  19. David Loxley

    David Loxley Well-Known Member

    Hummmn,,, just thinking....
    If we treated the forthcoming E.U. Parliament Elections as a referendum
    Would it not precipitate the E.U. into the same kind of dogs-dinner we currently experience in the disU.K. ?
    daft_biker likes this.
  20. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Well we are going to be inundating them with EU haters as new MEPs it seems, so very probably the anti-EU mafia inside the EP will get far stronger.

    But they might reflect that any moves over last 3 years towards reform of the many things they are rightly criticised for, might have helped take the sting out of the leavers' case here.

    Their flat No on issues like freedom of movement, that clearly had huge popular momentum all over Europe, might be looked back on as very unwise and doctrinaire.

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