Saturday, October 08, 2011

Low Voter Turnout

Voter turnout for the Thursday election in Ontario was the lowest it has ever been and it continues a trend that has been occuring for more than two decades.  This is not unique to Ontario as other provinces are experiencing the same trend, we are seeing it at the federal level and we are seeing it in other western countries where there are no laws making voting mandatory.

Seeing this trend I am reminded of the quote from Plato at the top of my blog.

Why is this trend occuring?

I think the main reason is that most of the populations of the western democracies believe politics is no longer relevent to their lives.  They see the political classes in their respective countries engaging in short-sighted partisanship where the short-term interests of the political players trumps the broader interests of the societies in which they exist and that dynamic remains the same regardless of which party is in power.

Such a situation in untenable.  It will eventually come back to haunt the societies that are experiencing it. 

So how do we fix the problem?

Making voting mandatory is one solution but it is just a band-aid.  It does not fix the underlying malaise that is the root cause of low voter turnout.  As well, some of the western governments that do not already have it are predisposed to reducing what they consider to be the unreasonable burden governments already place on their citizens.  Making voting mandatory would go against that predisposition.

The real solution is to make politics relevent again but that is easier said than done. 

However, it is necessary for democracy to survive.  I know many people believe democracy is the pinnacle of political development and that it will last forever but the same was believed of feudalism, mercantilism and communism.  History proved those beliefs to be false as they all collapsed under the weight of their own contradictions.  Democracy is not immune to this. 

If democracy is to survive those who cherish it will have to revive it by taking it out of the hands of the current political classes of the western world. Failure to do so will eventually cause democracy to suffer the fates of the political systems it replaced.  I am not smart enough to know how it will happen, wether it happens quickly or gradually, and I cannot say what will replace it but I do believe that it is inevitable unless we fight to save it. 

Then again it might already be too late.

Election Night Coverage and Other Thoughts

Who in the CTV and Global braintrust thought it would be a good idea to have former Ontario premiers and other hacks from the various political parties as analysts?  Their reactions to how things unfolded was totally predictable spin, quite useless in explaining what we were watching unfold Thursday night.  After watching that for 30 minutes I turned it off and only went back a few time during the evening to check the seat ticker.

Predictably the Liberal "analysts" stated it was a good night for the Liberals while the Ontario PC and NDP "analysts" stated it was a lousy night for the Liberals and a great night for their parties.  Indeed, listening to Ernie Eves, I was almost believing the Ontario PC Party was winning on Thursday night.

Cutting through all of the spin here is what we are left with.  The Liberals won the election.  They won a minority government but they only came up short of a majority by one seat.  That is it.  Everything else that was said on Thursday night was spin, speculation and conjecture.

How all of this plays out in the coming months and years remains to be seen. 

Things could go badly for the Liberals.  There is no denying that is a possibility but they are not the only party that has to worry about the future.

Pay attention to the Ontario PC Party.  Virtually all of their gains came from rural ridings, which is the base for Randy Hillier and his band of Tea Party wannabees.  It will be interesting to see what happens if they decide to flex their new found muscle within the Ontario PC Party and how Tim Hudak responds to that.  Any sign of internal dissent would not be good news for a party that may face a snap election at any time and if the more radical instincts of the Hillier wing of that party begins to seep into the Party's policies it could frighten alot of urban voters enough to hold their nose and vote for the party that is currently in the best position to keep them at bay, namely the Liberals.