Monday, July 04, 2005

Compulsory voting, says Hoon

Not completely sure where I stand on compulsory voting, although I'm not so keen when it's considered as the only route to political interest, nor when people make such non-sequiturs as Geoff Hoon makes:

Mr Hoon will argue that "international experience points to compulsory voting being the most effective way to increase turnout". It is "the most obvious way to bring those who feel alienated into the political process and the best means to enhance civic participation". It would also "bring back the sense that we can all work together".


phil jones said...

Well, it's treating the symptom rather than the cause, innit?

People don't vote because they don't believe they don't believe politicians have much power or make much difference or that the choices are really very different. *That's* the voter turnout problem.

Forcing people to vote won't fix those beliefs, (or underlying reality) just because you have a larger number of people who went to the polling stations. At worst it will obscure this problem, introduce more paper-work, and more noise into the system as people vote randomly (or based on vague misunderstandings) rather than stay at home.

Scribe said...

Agree completely. Anyone assuming that, by forcing everyone to do someone, you'll end up with a "coherent" society is, well... probably a politician, unfortunately. (Same goes with the whole idea of "respect" being a forced virtue...)

Other countries do implement some form of compulsory voting, or at least a positive-feedback system. But I'd much rather see a focus on a) local democracy and political involvement, b) devolved decision making to help (a), and c) Proportional Representation, before any kind of compulsion was brought in.

Quality, not quantity.

phil jones said...

Brasil has mandatory voting. And look at the mess they end up in.

Lula, well intentioned, turns out to have been forced to pay representatives of other parties bribes to support him in government. Reason? Lots of little parties, lots of politicking. Lots of sick and twisted right wing populists. Including the guy who has blown the whistle on the whole set-up as revenge because his corruption in the post-office was found out. He's now being feted on the chat-shows (think of a nastier, more ironic and cynical Neil and Christine Hamilton, getting richer on a grander scale and you get the idea.) Meanwhile, waves of secondary accusations are tearing the government apart.