Monday, 22 March 2010

Party or party?

The election results look like being typical for our part of the world. The major party with the smaller number of votes will end up taking office because of our preferential voting system. Now some people will say this is quite fair. If you do not get your first choice you should be able to get your second choice or your third choice or, if things go drastically wrong, your fourth choice - and so on. The only thing wrong with this argument is that you may not wish to make a second, third or fourth choice. You may in fact violently disagree with their policies but, if you want your first choice to count, you must choose a second, third or fourth or however many people appear on the ballot paper.
We have not yet reached the point in lower house elections where you have the option of putting one number above the line or all the numbers below the line. There were, after all, only four candidates for the local seat. At least one has policies I very strongly oppose, another has policies I oppose, another I believe has unrealistic policies and the last is not much better. If I have to vote at all then there is one I morally object to having to vote for at all but I must if I want my first choice to count. I am not sure where it leaves me in the moral stakes.
I did my own thing in the Upper House election even though it meant spending an age marking the ballot paper from one to seventy-something on a sheet of paper the size of which was more suited to a third world election campaign. The little pictures were absent on the assumption that all Australian voters can read. (I would not be too sure about that.) Again I object to having to put a number against a party or person I am morally opposed to but it is do it or don't have your vote counted.
I slouched off to another sort of party yesterday in no mood for partying at all. It was a double 70th birthday party and my father and I were invited to the Polly half. Most of the people there were relatives and since the two birthday people were cousins many of the relatives were also related to one another. We were not related to either person.
I am not a party sort of person. I prefer to see my friends in smaller groups. I do not like noise etc etc. I am not much good at small talk to complete strangers either. But, not everyone there was a complete stranger. There were, despite it being a 70th, a large contingent of young and very young. There were nuns and priests - some of them relatives - but unrecognisable in everyday garb. Most people present would have shared their faith to some degree or other but there were others with very different backgrounds and beliefs.
Polly's uncle, also the former Archbishop of her faith, was there. He had insisted on wearing a name tag like everyone else, although everyone would have known him. As the oldest of ten children he has had more experience than most people in handling children. They clearly like him, rushing up to tell him things and then racing away again. He goes by his Christian name at such functions with the prefix of 'uncle' only for the youngest.
As I left to pedal home I could not help thinking that party political politics might have learned something from that gathering. Nobody was asked to make morally impossible choices. Nobody imposed their beliefs on anyone else.


Rachel Fenton said...

I swear, if I didn't know your blog better, I'd think you were making this stuff up - it just gets dafter by the detail! What sort of democracy forces you to make more choices than you want to? Oh, you simply must have choice - even if you don't want it! Bonkers!

catdownunder said...

Welcome to the world of South Australian (indeed Australian) politics Rachel - compulsory attendance at the ballot box (called 'compulsory voting even by the Electoral Commission) and compulsory preferencing if you want that vote to count.

Holly said...

no ability for write ins?

Donna Hosie said...

Your posts about Australian politics have been fascinating and eye-opening.

catdownunder said...

Oh yes Holly - there is a 'postal voting' option if you cannot get to a polling booth. They do not like people using it - more work for them.
Donna you live in Australia and probably know just as much as I do!