Wednesday 29 June 2016

The double-edged sword of democracy...

I like the fact that I come from a democratic country. I also appreciate that, in Australia, democracy is enforced through compulsory voting.

For an example of what happens when voting isn't compulsory, look no further than the recent EU Referendum in the UK. You'll read that 51.9% voted exit, whilst 48.1% voted remain.

What perhaps is more accurate is:
37.4% of registered voters voted exit
34.7% of registered voters voted remain
0.05% of registered voters submitted a blank or informal vote
27.8% of registered voters didn't even vote

And that's not even counting the number of adult UK citizens or residents who weren't registered.

No matter how skeptical you might be able your ability to influence politics, this is an important lesson - if you vote, then it counts. And it's scary that a minority of people in the UK can make this kind of decision that will have social and economical repercussions across the globe.

I mention this because, in two days, Australia has its Federal Election. It's a big one - the result of a double-dissolution of parliament (not to be confused with being doubly-disillusioned, which is what I imagine many people feel about the current two-party system).

Being overseas, it would be easy for me to say, "Oh, I'm out of the country, and it's too hard to find a way to vote." It happened last time, when I went to the Australian Embassy in Singapore to vote, only to find that they'd published the dates incorrectly on the website, and so I wasn't able to vote, and Tony Abbott became Prime Minister.

This time I'm going to try a bit harder. If I can make it to a voting poll, then so should you. Do your research on your candidates, make sure you've made time to visit a voting station, and exercise your democratic right.

On the point of doing research, I should mention that group voting tickets have been abolished as of this year. So, for the first time, you can vote about the line in the senate, and not worry about your voting being fed into a party's referencing deals. You get to control where your preferences go.

So, Australians, make sure you vote. It's your responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great power. If you don't, then somebody else will, and you may not like the result.

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