We're being blamed for not voting in the local body elections but it is the failure  of representative democracy that is really at fault.

The number of people voting in the local body elections was the lowest since 2007 when  just 44 percent  of eligible  voters decided to vote. This year it was just 40 percent. It follows on from a historic low turnout at the last general election.

You and me, of course,  are being blamed for the dismal turnout.  As usual we're apathetic  and disinterested.  We've also been smeared as stupid because we, apparently, finding it difficult to fill in election papers and them post them back. It is beyond many of us.

Next up they'll be handing out picture books and crayons with instructions to put 'our mark' against 'the nice people' we like the best.

No, we haven't actually got that far - yet. But they are considering making voting compulsory and moving the whole shindig into cyberspace. Neither proposal comes to the grip with the real  problem which isn't surprising as it would be admitting that the game is up - representative democracy has failed.

But those who are  dictating the direction of this debate are those who have a stake in not rocking the boat and that even includes the liberal chattering class. Martyn Bradbury, for example, has decided that the 35 percent in Auckland was due to 'voter apathy'.   Oh, and voter ignorance:

'Talking to many Aucklanders about why they didn’t vote and the answer that came back was a resounding feeling that they simply weren’t equipped enough to know who to vote for. '

Apathetic and dumb! Bradbury sure knows how to make friends.

Rather than scapegoating ordinary people (again) lets lay the blame where it should really reside. The fact is people are simply disillusioned with elected representatives and the institutions in which they sit.

We have had decades  of our so-called 'representatives' doing what they like  when they like. There has been no engagement with the public except when they want our vote. Even them  our 'representatives' have gone ahead and pursued policies outside of their mandates.  Did you vote for increasing social inequality and mass unemployment? Did you vote for  austerity cuts?  No, neither did I.

There is a severe and growing disconnect between ordinary people and the  political decision-making process in both local body politics and in Parliament.   More and more people are now realizing that their elected representatives do not represent them. The more that they tell us that they do, the more we don't believe them.

It is not exaggerating to say that we have a crisis of  representative democracy. Voting every few years for a new set of oppressors isn't democracy and it is not surprising that more and more people are opting out of this charade. When a right wing moron like Newstalk ZB's Danny Watson applauds people for voting, then you know you are being conned.

Politics needs a complete  upheaval and we need democratic renewal. As representative democracy sinks into a deepening crisis we need to fundamentally re-examine what we mean by 'democracy'.

I share the view that  a real democracy is a direct and participatory democracy, in which all citizens have the possibility and the right to participate in the decisions that affect their  lives and their communities. 

We are a very long way from that yet.  One thing is certain  - a radical direct and participatory democracy will not be handed down to us by the elites who claim to speak for us, but has to be struggled for by ordinary people and their organisations.


Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.