Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Thoughts on Compulsory Voting.

With elections in Australia coming up, some may be pondering the introduction of the same system of voting in the United Kingdom.

Hoever, rather than introducing compulsory voting in Britain, there should be a 'None of the Above' option on the ballot card, though whether that would improve electoral turnout or not is doubtful. The fact is that people no longer think voting matters. Like much else, it voting itself has become a form of consumer choice.

If compulsory voting were introduced, there would be a need to give people the right to reject all of the candidates. Electoral turnouts have declined since 1992. Even Blair's "landslide" victory of 1997 for "New" Labour saw a lower turnout than the 73% twentieth century average.

The electoral turnouts have been dire ever since. The fact is that there is not much difference between the three main parties and low turnouts are due to apathy or else to anger because the politics is so bland and choreographed, without real confrontational debates in Parliament.

Those who tend to vote as a proportion do tend to be those with some sort of stake in the economic system. Yet even if compulsory voting were introduced, it is unlikely to make much difference as Australia's neoliberal corporatist state is very much similar to that in Britain.

The evidence is large numbers of Australians, some 1 in 5, do not cast a vote that counts. That is 20% of the population
'In 2010, 1.5 million out of 15.5 million eligible Australians were missing from the electoral roll. A further 900,000 were on the roll but did not vote. And 700,000 cast informal votes that could not be counted'.
Compulsory voting makes very little difference in practice. It is, in reality, 'compulsory turnout'. If governments are to consider all those who vote in elections as opposed to only those who vote for them, then compulsory voting means only those that count are those which are formal votes.

Clearly, in both Britain and Australia the 'real votes' are those belonging to those who are given a stake in the system and those who think the system does not reflect interests beyond global corporate businesses, advertising, mass media and consumerism count for nothing.

J G Ballard accurately got to the reality of the situation when he wrote in 2005, after a general election with a mere 61.4 % turnout, that,
'politics has lost its will, and may even have reached its close, absorbed into consumerism and public relations. Perhaps elections and the ballot box are little more than a folkloric ritual, along with parliament itself. Like university lecturers and psychiatrists, politicians may incidentally do some good, but their real loyalty is to themselves and their profession. The chief function of election campaigns is to convince us that politics and politicians are still important.
Real power has gone, migrating to the shopping malls and hypermarkets where we make the important decisions in our lives. Consumerism controls everything, and the ballot box defers to the cash counter. The only escape from all this is probably out-and-out madness, and I expect the number of supermarket shootings and meaningless crimes to increase dramatically in the coming years. If anywhere, the future seems to lie with competing systems of psychopathology'.
With all politicians promoting a repressive security-surveillance state, constant monitoring of 'the community' and meddling in Muslim majority lands, the better to control the resources needed to prop up this frantic consumerism, the stage is set for a conflict between control freaks and chaos mongers.

No comments:

Post a Comment