Thursday, May 06, 2010

Will we grab the chance to fix the democratic deficit?

So, we're all off to vote.

What a privilege it is to choose the people who will make the decisions about how our country is run. This is the creation mandate democratised, everyone having a say in how we till the garden.

This is not to say that there aren't problems with our current way of operating, of course. Wonderful though it is to be able to vote, it is galling to think that the election will be decided in just about 100 constituencies (and mine isn't one of them!), leaving 500+ constituencies facing a democratic deficit of some kind.

And whichever party emerges as the biggest will still only have the backing of between 25 and 35% of the popular vote - hardly an overwhelming endorsement of any party programme!

The case for reform is pretty overwhelming. Add to that the hopelessly muddled and outdated way our second chamber is filled and it's not hard to see why many overseas observers are doubtful that if we were an emerging nation, our system of elections would pass muster.

But what chance is there that this creaking system would be overhauled by a government that squeaked home with a working majority under our first-past-the-post system? Not much judging by the past 30 years!

So a hung parliament could well be the best outcome of this voting round, providing it gives rise to a serious attempt to reform our democratic institutions, making the link between voters and parliament stronger by ensuring that everyone's vote counts.

The markets won't like it but then you know what happens when we allow bankers to run the world!

1 comment:

Bob said...

Absolutely. I can say proudly that not only have I never voted for the government in an election; I've never even managed to vote for the winning candidate, and I'm pretty certain that today won't have changed that. It would be great to see this opportunity for radical electoral reform taken - it may not come again - but we need to pray for more than average wisdom for those who might have to devise / negotiate whatever we adopt instead!