Thursday 7 May 2015

On voting, not voting and coalitions

Its election day and there's been a lot of discussion the last few months about whether not voting is a valid act or protest. I am voting, as it happens, but I wanted to say this:

If you aren't voting because you can't find a political party whose policies you believe in then I totally respect that. Voting is ultimately an act of conscience and it would be morally wrong of me to encourage someone to vote for something they don't believe in.

If you don't feel any connection to politics then I'd ask you to reconsider but I wouldn't blame you. I'd blame the political culture for forcing that disengagement through decades of betraying the common trust.

I do believe there's some worth in voting and I do have a party whose principles I've come to believe in. I actually have missed a couple of elections, mainly local ones, in my younger years but over the last six or seven years I've become much more politically engaged. It is an uphill struggle, though, given that so much news media biases to the right (it really does, no matter what the right says because deference to power equals access to power so most media tends to defer to those in power) and there's an increasing amount of fact checking you have to do to take anything a politician says as truth.

I'm not one to predict how these things go but I do think we'll have another coalition because the rise of minor parties the last few years (for good or ill) means we aren't facing a world of two horse races anymore. In a way this makes voting more important as the composition of government is going to be more complex than simply achieving a parliamentary majority. A small increase in the number of, say, Green or SNP members in a theoretical coalition would have a real effect on policy.

You see how this could be better than a majority party? Voting for smaller parties who could never form a majority becomes more valuable. There could never be a Green or SNP government, under majority rule they'd always be on the opposition side of the house, at least in any immediate term. Now, if one of those parties gained a significant block of the members and a coalition was needed they'd have a genuine chance to affect policy from within the ruling party instead of simply voting for or against when presented with an already written proposition.

If you agree more with Green or SNP policies you can vote for them with a chance they'll be in government even if they aren't the ruling party, its actually quite exciting. 

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