Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, May 28, 2018 07:21:45 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Do elections really represent 'the voice' of the people?

By
12th-May-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Patrick Keuleers :
Since the beginning of the year the world has witnessed 24 national elections in which nearly 100 million people cast their votes. All together in 2018, there will be a total of 68 planned electoral processes in 45 countries ranging from presidential and legislative to local elections. Elections remain one of the key democratic processes through which people express their opinion on the way their country and communities are managed.
But do elections today really represent "the voice" of the people?
From the end of the Cold War until about 2006 the levels of freedom and democracy increased around the world. Since then indices on the quality of democracy have declined year after year. Today, both crisis affected countries and established democracies witness a decline in trust in their democratic institutions and in elected officials in particular; the lack of confidence is especially low among younger generations.
Both established democracies and autocratic regimes suffer from dangerous syndromes of negligence, confidence and disengagement: people assume the system is anchored and that the electoral process will not bring much change to their lives, whether they vote or not.
The electoral ballot, long considered the symbol of liberal democracy, has lost its throne among the democratic institutions, even if, ironically, many authoritarian leaders have come to power via established electoral processes. As a result, voter turnout in most established democracies has been decreasing since the 1980s.
The declining "voting population" demands a reflection on the principle of democratic participation: should voting, as an expression of democratic participation, be voluntary or mandatory? What do the data tell us?
Voter turnout tends to be high (up to 95%) in countries that have mandatory voting (e.g. Belgium, Australia, Singapore, Luxemburg, and Turkey) and it may be lower in countries where voting is voluntary (e.g. the United States or Morocco). The verdict is however mixed as high voter turnout is also witnessed in polities where voting is not mandatory (e.g. Malta, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark and Germany). It can also be high at the national level while low in some municipalities.
New Zealand for example had a national voter turnout of 77 % in the 2014 elections while voter turnout for the 2016 local elections in the City of Auckland was only 36%.
Those who oppose mandatory voting argue that it violates the right and freedom of the individual to decide whether to participate in a political process or not. Some also think that imposing ill-informed and un-interested citizens to vote is irresponsible.
Those in favor of mandatory voting consider the act of voting a civic obligation that is inherent to the notion of citizenship; paying taxes is mandatory, why should voting not be?
Non-mandatory voting tends to benefit those who have the power and the finances to mobilise larger groups of voters around their ideas. Mandatory voting would increase the representation of disadvantaged groups.
And research also shows that people living in countries where voting is compulsory are politically better informed, either because voters choose to inform themselves or because of comprehensive voter education programmes..
Discussions on the right to democratic participation also raise questions on the voting age. In 2016 the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) issued a report "Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth" that outlines how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy.
Lowering the voting age would increase the degree of political participation of young people, and indeed 16 year-olds may already vote in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. But lowering the voting age alone is not enough, young people don't want passive voting rights, they demand active political participation.
The average age of parliamentarians, globally, is 53 and only 1.9 per cent of them are under 30 years of age. And in one third of all countries, eligibility to be elected to the national parliament starts only at 25 years of age.
Hence what is needed is a policy of alignment: lowering the voting age while creating opportunities for young people's representation in political institutions and active involvement in the political process through activisms and advocacy, political party involvement, and election observation.
Technology can also promote participation. But despite the fact that technology is already used at many stages of the electoral process - for voter information, election observation and voter registration - internet voting is still in its infant stages and only used in one country -Estonia.
Having solid control systems to avoid potential digital voter fraud remains a challenge. Importantly also, internet voting will require governments to ensure that those on the deprived side of the digital divide do not get their voting rights stripped because they can't access the technology that is fundamental to the exercise of these rights.
Hence, until internet voting gains confidence and its integrity is guaranteed, the focus should be on increasing accessibility in time and space.
To conclude, it is time for democratic participation to become a public good again, available to all citizens and respected for its intrinsic worth. For that to happen:
· Politics needs to place the human being back at the centre of the political debate, instead of public and private interests.
· Lowering the voting and eligibility age has to be part of the global youth agenda. It would increase youth political participation and leadership so that young people can effectively exercise their right to contribute to decisions that affect their future.
· The right to vote needs to become again a key principle of democratic participation. Socialisation efforts to promote voting as a civic obligation is one way to achieve that.
· Making voting easier and more accessible can stimulate voter turnout such as by organising elections on a non-working day, extending voting hours, allowing voting on multiple days, voting via mail, ensuring proximity of polling stations and developing the digital means and security protocols to promote on-line voting.
Despite the complexity of the issue, voting remains the most powerful expression of the voice of the people as the custodians of a democratic society. It remains therefore a topic of heated debates and controversies.
The modalities of how people will vote are likely to change dramatically, allowing for a larger group of people to express their opinion, both during elections and after the ballots.
With the right technologies and appropriate education and socialisation, voting may well become the powerful antidote against the current deterioration of politics. Voting does matter and should therefore be considered both a right and a civic obligation.
(Patrick Keuleers is Director, Governance and Peace Building, UNDP)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Teesta treaty still a far cry


YESTERDAY, Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a closed-door meeting for about an hour at a five-star hotel in Kolkata. Although they discussed a lot of issues such as education, trade and economic ties, the much anticipated Teesta water-sharing deal did not figure ...

Entertainment »

Kajol unveils her wax statue at Madame Tussauds Singapore


Bollywood fans, prepare yourself! Kajol joined the IIFA Awards party at Madame Tussauds Singapore. Her figure is the newest addition to the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards Experience, an interactive zone where you can surround yourself with A-list Bollywood stars and experience stardom. The Bollywood legend herself came to ...

Entertainment »

Leading actors joining the voice over industry gives me hope: Pallavi Bharti


The existence of voice over artists was established only after popular names like Ranveer Singh, Bhuvan Bam and Sharad Kelkar dubbed for the leading characters of blockbuster movies. Pallavi Bharti - who herself is an immensely experienced and talented artist in the field - feels that the involvement of popular ...

International »

Florida, Alabama, Mississippi declare emergency ahead of storm


Reuters, Washington :Florida, Alabama and Mississippi declared states of emergency on Saturday as Subtropical Storm Alberto drove north toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, threatening to bring heavy rainfall and flooding to the coastal states by Monday.The first named Atlantic storm of 2018 is expected to intensify and bring wind speeds ...

Football »

Platini says FIFA must now end his ban, but probe goes on


Former UEFA president Michel Platini said Saturday he hoped FIFA would lift his ban over a controversial 1.8-million-euro payment after Swiss prosecutors said they had found no evidence so far to incriminate him."I hope that FIFA will have the courage and the decency to lift my suspension," Platini told AFP ...

Football »

Colombia`s national soccer team coach Jose Pekerman greets a boy next to James Rodriguez (right) and Radamel Falco Garcia, second from right, prior to an exhibition match at the Nemesio Camacho stadium in Bogota, Colombia on Friday. Colombia will warm up and play a friendly match against Egypt in Italy before heading to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.


Editorial »

Anti-Terrorism special tribunals not working for quick disposal


NEWS media reported that the two Anti-terrorism Special Tribunals formed last month for quick trial of militancy and terrorism cases are now working at a snail's pace. A small number of cases have been transferred to the tribunals while shortages of courtrooms and manpower are acute. After forming the tribunals ...

Entertainment »

Apu Biswas making comeback


Entertainment Desk :The actress, who kept herself away from the silver screen for family reasons, will be seen in Debashish Biswas's upcoming directorial venture Shashurbari Zindabad-2. The film's shooting will begin this week, informed Apu. 'I am looking forward to make my comeback through Debashish Biswas' upcoming film Shashurbari Zindabad-2, ...

Entertainment »

Deepika, Ranveer are likely to marry on Nov 19


After Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja's big fat Punjabi wedding, looks like another popular couple is ready to tie the knot soon.Ever since the beginning of 2018, rumors of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone tying the knot have been sending fans into a tizzy. We've been hearing news of guests ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Dr Khondkar Mosharraf Hossain, among others, at a protest rally organised by Bangladesh Jatiya Dal at the Jatiya Press Club on Saturday demanding release of BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and other leaders of the party.


International »

S Korea relieved about Trump-Kim summit revival efforts


AP, Seoul :South Korea on Saturday expressed cautious relief about the revived talks for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following a whirlwind 24 hours that saw Trump canceling the highly-anticipated meeting before saying it's potentially back on.The statement by Seoul's presidential office ...

Editorial »

Narcotics sale continues despite countrywide crackdown


NARCOTICS trade continues unabated at some of the hotspots in the capital with drug dealers continually changing their tactics in the face of the ongoing nationwide anti-drugs crackdown. The people involved in the illicit trade have become vigilant, but sales haven't stopped. It is, however, difficult to comment about the ...

Back Page »

Fear Allah


Abdul Muqit Chowdhury :The Holy Quran reveals : This is the Book ; /in it is guidance sure, without doubt, /to those who fear God;/who believe in the Unseen/Are steadfast in prayer, /and spend out of what We/Have provided for them;/And who believe in the Revelation/Sent to thee,/And sent before ...

Cricket »

Pakistan bowl England out for 184, reach 50-1 in reply


AP, London :Pakistan provoked England's latest batting collapse by combining disciplined bowling with superb catching before showing resistance in its reply to dominate the opening day of the first test at Lord's on Thursday.A new international season started with some familiar problems for England, which stumbled to 43-3 after winning ...

City »

Textile Garments Workers Federation formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Friday to meet its various demands including reopening of Mastext Mills in Turag.


.

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news