Monday, 8 May 2017

So Macron has won the French election

or has he? 
A Frenchman here told me he voted for "the lesser of two evils". He thinks Macron's lack of political experience is going to make it impossible for him to do the job well. At the same time he had no time for Le Pen. 
I wonder how many other people voted the same way? I suppose the best that can be said is that they voted.
My French friend asked me whether the English and French results had caused me to change my mind about Downunder's "compulsory voting" or the compulsory attendance at the ballot box. 
No, it hasn't. I still think that compulsion to participate is wrong. Encouragement to participate is right and proper and even essential but compulsion to do so is wrong. There is in fact no compulsion to actually vote in Downunder but most people believe that the system requires them to do so. The government - and indeed the Australian Electoral Commission itself - say "voting is compulsory" but that is not correct. Nobody can force you to mark the ballot paper because the way you choose to mark or not mark the ballot paper is yours alone.  
It is never likely to happen but if I was given the choice between just two candidates and they both supported the reintroduction of the death penalty then I could not cast a vote. Yes, it is an extreme example but I believe it is a fair one. 
And yes, like many French, I have voted for what I believe to be the lesser of two evils. I think about the way I am voting. 
I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I belong to an organisation which will shortly be voting people into positions of considerable power. At present that power is being abused by one person and it is making the situation a very unhappy one for many people. That person won't get a second chance but someone is needed as a replacement. The person who takes over is going to have to do a lot of work to mend fences and build relationships. It isn't going to be easy.  I will be thinking long and hard about just who might be able to do that. 
And I hope I don't have to vote for the lesser of two evils.


Anonymous said...

A major problem with the Australian system is that your vote may, because of the distribution system of parties assigning votes to other parties, be allocated to a party you definitely did not want to vote for (and sometimes politicians are elected on a minuscule part of the total votes). To avoid this, you have/had to arrange all the candidates in order, from first to last, missing none. Researching 116 candidates takes time, too. (I think there is now a way of voting for a restricted number of candidates in preferential order, not the whole lot.)

However, a "compulsory" vote does mean voters have to participate to some degree. How much they think about it is another story.

I think "compulsory" is probably better than non-compulsory. I think it would be better if we either voted for our (say) six best choices in order, or had had six votes and could apportion them amongst as many candidates, up to six.


Melodye Traupel said...

I would like for my country to have one person, one vote. I think our Electoral College has outlived its usefulness.
We Americans are notorious for very low voter participation, even when it comes to
presidential elections. I have always wondered if more people would vote, if we had a requirement like Australia's.
I guess no voting system is perfect.
I am so fortunate to have grown up in a home where my mother and father voted at every election (local, state, and national) and my mother did grassroots work for her party. I'm sure my dad would have, too, but he was a federal government employee and was restricted from political activity. I learned from my parents how important our votes are.

USA Sister Cat