Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,
Pavlos
pavlos

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Votive offering

It turns out that I am allowed to vote for the Scottish parliamentary elections as well as the local council. I thought I wouldn't get a Holyrood vote because I definitely don't get one in the UK parliamentary elections. Hmmm... Obviously the Scottish elections aren't so important. Oh, hang on, we knew that...

So, I voted for the Liberal Democrats, because the candidate has some chance of being elected, and for Margo McDonald as per nine's suggestion. Now, I perceive there is some small taboo about discussing your vote or accepting suggestions, but I don't see what the problem is. In fact, there are a few people (nine, Alison, and Paul) that I would happily let cast my vote for me, and I think that could improve the representation of my views. So I wonder why it's not more common for groups of friends to deal with democracy as a team.

But in any case, the voting exercise is a fiction. I know it's a fiction even at the time that I cast my vote. Even if I didn't know of last term's results and had never read a UK newspaper, but just by looking at the electoral system, I could see that it's a fiction. I might as well lay my vote on the altar and sacrifice it to Athena, for all the effect it's going to have on policy.

The electoral system is roughly as follows: I and some random collection of people defined only by their central Edinburgh addresses have to elect one representative. We don't know who each other is in the constituency, except in the obvious case of our neighbors, and there are no media or forums whose scope matches the constituency. We're definitely not encouraged to organize as a group and try to coordinate our vote before the election. To make an already hopeless situation worse, no independent candidates have campaigned specifically in this constituency, about matters relating to the constituency. We have to choose from a list of candidates whose defining characteristic is their party, and party policies are of course uncorrelated with constituencies. Finally, in the case of the Scottish parliament we are electing a legislator, not a mayor, and so their remit is uncorrelated with the boundaries of the constituency also.

Honestly, who thinks that this system could possibly let me, and the others in my constituency, elect plausible representatives? What can it do but elect one of the two or three main compromise party representatives based on the (somewhat arbitrary) distribution of major party preferences in each constituency? Why do we think this is satisfactory democracy? If the election were found to be rigged, there would be public outrage. Why is there no public outrage for the election being designed to be ineffective?

Pavlos
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