Should political voting in the UK be compulsory?.

  spuds 09:31 15 Dec 2013
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A quiet Sunday morning, so just a general question for debate or discussion?.

Seeing here in the UK that election voting usually results in poor turn-outs, should political voting be made compulsory like some other countries have?.

The reason why I raise this subject, is usually the winner or winning team often state that "the public" voted them in power, yet with a very low turn-out, how can they justify that statement?.

We also hear on many occasions that if the public are not happy, then they can walk away at the next elections. Yet if you do not vote, because you view all politicians the same. Then how can you walk away, if you didn't vote in the first place?.

  Forum Editor 10:19 15 Dec 2013

It is generally believed that the decline in voter turn-out since the 1960s has been due to several factors.

People increasingly feel that their single vote among so many cannot have any effect.

There's a feeling that all politicians are the same under the skin, so what's the point?

Apathy - life is hard, and I have too much on my plate to bother with getting out and voting.

Interestingly, non-voting has increased the most among people who started voting after 1960.

This subject tends, inevitably, to bring up the question of proportionate representation.

In countries where voting is mandatory turnout figures do tend to be higher, but it's difficult to come to hard and fast conclusions about its benefit. A true democracy is about freedom of choice, and whether to vote or not must surely be a matter for each person to decide.

  carver 10:28 15 Dec 2013

Sorry but I think I would prefer jail than be forced to vote for some of the self centred individuals we have in power.

We live supposedly in a democracy and if we had MP's we could trust then maybe you would get more people to vote.

But just look at the latest farce, common man on the streets is or has to be happy with either nil or 1% pay rise yet an MP will get 11%, is every body still in this economic struggle together?

  fourm member 10:35 15 Dec 2013

I think our democracy would benefit much more from the creation of primary elections for candidates.

If you are a voter in a very safe seat what is the point of voting at all? Especially if the party that holds the seat has rewarded some Downing Street drone by dropping him in.

If people were involved in the selection of the candidate they just might be more involved in the whole process.

Forcing someone to go and make a mark on a piece of paper (including putting a line through all of the candidates) doesn't serve any purpose.

  spuds 10:35 15 Dec 2013

But there are talks about lowering the voting age, does this mean that more people will actually provide a bigger turn-out for those that want to see changes?.

  Forum Editor 10:46 15 Dec 2013

"I think I would prefer jail than be forced to vote for some of the self centred individuals we have in power."

It's fortunate for you, then, that we don't have mandatory voting. You can simply choose not to vote.

There have been self-centred politicians ever since politics began, it's not a new thing, and it's not generally something that comes as a surprise. People enter politics for a variety of reasons, and one of them is definitely self-aggrandisement. Fortunately there are usually enough genuinely public-spirited individuals in politics for it not to matter too much.

We have to have politicians - society cannot function without them. Electing them is a process fraught with problems, and so far nobody has come up with a perfect system for doing it.

I have always thought it preferable to vote, because for now it is the only way I can exert any influence over the way our country is governed. If everyone thought 'what's the point, they're all the same' we would have no Parliament. They are not all the same, despite what many people choose to believe.

  pavvi 10:49 15 Dec 2013

I've seen the argument before regarding compulsory voting, and it's often accompanied by the argument that millions died so we could vote. The truth is that millions died so we would have freedom of choice.

It's up to politicians to motivate people to get involved, and I don't believe that ya boo politics is doing it. In fact, I believe that the adversarial system we have is doing the opposite. We need a chamber of legislature that is more representative of the people that it represents. If this means PR and with it more coalition politics so be it. It hasn't done Germany much harm.

The current coalition could have been a force for good in spite of it taking over in a time of economic difficulties. The fact that it is still in place is testament to there being some value in it. I suspect that the Lib Dems will pay a high price for it in the short term, because this country is not used to consensus politics. I think they were courageous to go into coalition with the Conservatives, and those who know Yes Prime Minister (the old one not the Gold one) will know that courageous isn't always good in politics.

A hung parliament is seen as a negative thing, yet in a consensus, things like poll tax would have been unlikely to have succeeded.

As far as the 11% increase is concerned, that is a recommendation by an independent body that MPs don't have to accept. Whether there will be an amendment that allows them to vote for a more acceptable percentage remains to be seen.

Essentially politicians have to do two things:

  1. Make themselves relevant to the electorate

  2. Stop playing games and work towards a common goal.

  spuds 11:17 15 Dec 2013

Perhaps going off subject slightly, but pavvi raised the point of the 11%. According to the BBC Parliament programme the other day, those suggesting (the independent committee) the pay rise have stated that it will not cost the public any extra. Because the funding will come from other savings within the way MP's are paid at present.

  Mr Mistoffelees 11:19 15 Dec 2013

Voting is a small price to pay for living in a democracy, or would some people rather live in North Korea?

  spuds 11:32 15 Dec 2013

Again going off subject slightly, which I never intended, but that word Democracy seems to have gained its way in the the debate or discussion.

Can someone explain what Democracy really means, because part of my understanding is "favouring popular rights". Yet on many occasion I have had to argue with authority about that very same or due point. We have 'Human Rights', yet some people seem to fair far better than others, when this applies. And its our politicians that may cause confusion regarding this?.

  Forum Editor 12:10 15 Dec 2013

"Can someone explain what Democracy really means"

If anyone could, they would be the first to do it. There are as many definitions of democracy as there are days in the year, but generally speaking they all centre around the well-known 'government of the people, by the people, for the people.....' of Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

I've always rather liked the definition that says in a democracy peaceful rivalry for the exercise of power exists constitutionally.

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