Democracy in action? Or democracy inaction?

It is well-recorded in terms of votes at election time that, over recent times (the last 20 years or more), no Party forming a government has secured not less than 50% of the electorate’s vote for that government.  (For “government” read both national and local.) Beyond doubt, the consequence of our less-than-democratic “first past the post” voting system which certain (the two larger) Parties have a vested interest in not wanting to change.

But, so far as democracy goes, there is an even greater fault-line.  That fault-line relates to who chooses a Party’s candidate to stand for election in the first place.  Not unreasonably, such a choice is usually made ‘locally’ (‘local’ in terms of the electoral boundary – ward, district, council, parliamentary).  More completely, such a choice of candidate is made, not unreasonably, “locally” by Party members.

But that’s the rub!  Based on Party published accounts and related figures, and taking the current three major Parties as measured by number of MPs, the total of the number of people who are registered as subscribing members of these three Parties taken together is less than 1% of the eligible electorate.  Almost by definition, therefore, the people we vote for have been selected by less than half a percent of the electorate as a whole.

And that’s democracy?  And passing legislation which requires people to vote is not going to solve the underlying malaise of disinterest, disbelief, disengagement and wholesale disillusionment of the electorate towards a discredited political system and those with a vested interest in maintaining it.

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