The eventual death of democracy?

This year will see dozens of elections across the world and most will theoretically  be decided by the ballot box. This opportunity for the people to vote is considered the cornerstone of democracy.

While we in the West take many of these results in other parts of the world  with a pinch of salt, this public vote is used either to show that the people had a choice, or that the person elected was ‘loved’ by his or her people. However, it is easy to win a vote if you jail your competition like Russia or India, and we certainly cannot be naive enough to believe that there is any real choice in Syria or North Korea.

But, in reality, are we in these so called beacons of democracy any better? At present the USA are gearing up to choose not a set of policies, but a choice between a man facing multiple court cases and one that has clearly seen healthier and more coherent days.

I know that the last paragraph is likely to evoke the immediate ire of the patriotic members of the country across the pond, so let me restore some UK balance to my comments about the USA.

Here in the UK there is another election raging at the supposed home of true democracy and the mother of all parliaments. So should we rejoice that the public can make their five yearly visit to a church hall or some other facility that they would never normally enter, in order to put a cross on a piece of paper using a stub of a pencil similar to that used to fill in betting slips at a bookies?

Viewing what is really happening, there is no evidence that the ideal of people choosing who to govern them is really happening. There are 650 people who are selected to run the UK. However, one person, on his own, decided that the other 649 would lose their seats and have to fight for them again in an election. To be fair, it wasn’t just him that decided this; he had the help of some unelected advisors! Even his cabinet were not told until the afternoon of the announcement.

But if this dictatorial approach to forcing the public to select their representative for the next five years, then the election campaign has not started on a very democratic or informed way. The UK public are not being asked to vote based on a plethora or policies for the next five years. This is about being asked to choose between the two party leaders, a bit like in the USA. And, like the USA, one is unpopular because of what he has done and the other is unpopular because he gives no indication that he will do anything.

Even worse, as the opinion polls and the press voice their opinions, the two leaders, fighting their vanity campaigns, make policy up on the fly, (again with the help of unelected advisors). No chance to find out what the party wants, no input from other elected members of parliament, no say in what they are expected to stand for in front of the electorate.

One week into this six week election period, although it already seems much longer, the press are resigned to commenting on the new power-dressing for party leaders with clothes that look like workers clothes but cost a fortune and with sleeves rolled up one turn as if ready for work! They must have engaged the same image consultants or is it that there is really nothing to choose between them?

Hopefully, as the remaining weeks pass, we may find out about their latest set of promises, although past records on both sides show that promises are easily broken! It may also be possible that, by 4 July, the parties will have decided who their candidates are for the various constituencies so that the people know who they are voting for, for at the time of writing, this has still not been decided.

But do we really believe that the members of the public that are not lying on a beach somewhere, or watching Wimbledon, Henley Regatta or Euro 2024, are really going to have a say in the way their country will be run?  Is this present six week charade just a sop to those people that think there are still a democracy and that their vote really counts?

If I were them I would go back to the town where Rushie Sunak went to school and where the Winchester Hat Festival will be taking place on 4 July. Here you will get the opportunity to see the Compagnia Circolabile from Italy perform with real clowns!

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