?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Scotland

« previous entry | next entry »
Sep. 19th, 2014 | 11:34 am

So, Scotland voted "No" on independence. Not unexpected, and I think most of my (non-Scottish) friends in the UK are breathing a collective sigh of relief now: whatever secession may have meant for Scotland, there was agreement that it could not have boded well for the rest of the union, especially those parts that aren't London.

At 44.7% "Yes" vs. 55.3% "No", the outcome was less close than I thought it might be, too, but despite that and despite it being against independence, I think it's anything but a reaffirmation of the status quo. If almost half the people in part of your nation think that they'd be better off seceding, you'd better ask yourself why.

What really surprised me the most was the voter turnout. 84.59% seems high at first glance, but think about what it really means — roughly one in 6-7 voters didn't care about the independence of their own country enough to be assed to go and make a mark. I cannot understand how anyone could fail to vote in such a historic referendum.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {7}

Transitioning into liminal space

(no subject)

from: stormdog
date: Sep. 19th, 2014 07:36 pm (UTC)
Link

Your observation about the turnout is interesting. It brings up the question of whether a person, as an autonomous human being, is obligated to inform themselves sufficiently about the politics of a body that they are part of by mere accident of birth to make an informed decisision in an election.

I'm inclined to argue that they are so obligated, especially given that the results have direct and significant effects on their own lives and the lives of others. But I think some number of people don't realize that. Maybe that's the road to take to raise voter turnout; make a clear connection to people's own self interests.

But for that to work, people also need to believe that their vote is significant, which rules out people who are deeply cynical about the efficacy of government in general and political parties in particular. There seem to be a hell of a lot of those folks in the US, as well as those who don't care because they're too busy trying to get by, or who don't care because...I dunno; they just don't care.

Edited at 2014-09-19 07:36 pm (UTC)

Reply | Thread

Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Sep. 19th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
Link

Aye, good points, all of them.

Obligation is an interesting question — is there an obligation to participate in politics? I can see arguments for either position, but overall I'd lean towards agreeing with you and saying that yes, there is; on the other hand, as far as elections are concerned, I'm not a fan of e.g. compulsory voting so long as people are not actually given the ability to express their political wishes.

For instance, wouldn't it be nice if ballots had a "none of the above" option, especially if it's people or parties being elected? It might serve as a valuable reminder to politicians, too: yes, you were elected, insofar as that your political opponent received fewer votes, but the number of people who didn't want either of you still dwarves the number who voted for you.

But that said, there is something to be said in favor of compulsory voting, too. Your forefathers fought for the right to vote, and you're squandering because it's raining on election day? Get real. Compulsory voting would at least serve to reach people who DO have a political will that can be expressed in terms of the options on the ballot, and who are merely not motivated to actually show up.

Of course this only applies to elections that actually matter. When I attended university, there were occasional elections for all sorts of bodies, but it was also fairly obvious to me that most of these had been created for the purpose of creating an illusion of participation and political influence. The real power rested elsewhere, so I really didn't blame people who didn't vote in these elections (which is to say most: turnouts averaged 20% or so), even though I still voted myself.

Re: compulsory voting again, it's a metaphorical stick, and in practice it should be augmented by an (equally metaphorical) carrot. Encouraging people to vote, demonstrating why it's important, even appealing to their self-interest, all those are good strategies. Perhaps there should be efforts to turn "I voted" into a badge of honor: I did my civic duty. Don't be an idiot and all that. (This, again, would depend on people being given the ability to actually express their political will, of course.)

There's also the question of how elections should be handled in general. First-past-the-post is obviously unacceptable; I'm a big fan of preferential voting, but OTOH I also like the German approach where you have two votes and where half of parliament is elected directly, one parliamentarian per district, and half of it is elected indirectly, by party. Ideally, I think that these two systems should be combined, with the "direct" part of the election (which is currently first-pass-the-post) being replaced by preferential voting.

In the case of Scotland's vote specifically, I'm mostly amazed by the low turnout given what a historically important election this is. If someone doesn't vote in the general elections, that's one thing. But independence? Suppose the vote had actually been in favor, and fifty years down the road, in an independent Scotland, you're talking to your grandchildren. Can you imagine the conversation? "Grampa, when Scotland became independent, did you vote for it or against it?" - "Uh, actually, I didn't vote at all. See, it would've taken at least twenty minutes to get to the polling station, cast a ballot and return home..."

Reply | Parent | Thread

(Deleted comment)

Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Sep. 19th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
Link

Aye, it sure is a sign that something's rotten in the state of Denmark, as it were. Even with independence being defeated for now (fairly narrowly, one might add), people are obviously discontent.

From what I've heard it's not limited to Scotland, either; many feel that the southeast of England, specifically London, is the only part of the nation that is getting much attention. There's demands for the UK to move to a less centralized, more federalized government structure, and if that happens, I think it can only be a good thing. We'll see what happens, though.

In the meantime, there's already news reports that a new nation named North-West-Glasdunlanbartondeegowshire has formed. :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

ungulata

(no subject)

from: ungulata
date: Sep. 21st, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
Link

One in six eligible voters may have abstained in order to avoid conflict with close friends or family with strong convictions.

Reply | Thread

Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Sep. 21st, 2014 09:15 am (UTC)
Link

Interesting thought, but I'm not sure I'm finding it wholly convincing. Would you abstain from voting just to avoid conflict over the way you voted, much less in such an important and historic elections? What's more, would one sixth of the entire electorate? (And would abstaining from casting a vote even avoid said conflict, if you still have your own convictions that are at odds with your friends' or family's?)

Reply | Parent | Thread

ungulata

(no subject)

from: ungulata
date: Sep. 21st, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
Link

In that situation I might not vote. I couldn't vote on the sly because someone might recognize me and I couldn't lie about my vote if lying makes me uncomfortable or if I'm trapped between two warring parties trying to make me take sides.

Reply | Parent | Thread