Democracy 101

Earlier this week Scottish voters participated in their independence referendum. There are many, many points to be made about this. Most notably, however, is the fact that the percentage of people turning out to vote in this democratic process was around 85%.

This is an extraordinary figure compared with the last Westminster election turnout at 65% or our turnout yesterday of around 70% (I’ve seen a range of figures this morning. I think people are working out the percentage without including special votes in the total – I will update if I find more information).

The reason so many people turned out in Scotland for this chance in democracy is because it was a chance to participate in history. Yesterday, almost 1 million New Zealanders decided there was an abject lack of anything worth voting for.

Our democracy, along with others, is facing a crisis of engagement. People no longer believe their vote is worth enough to turn out to use it. I’m not surprised with the choice being offered is so scant.

Unfortunately for those of us who believe in a progressive government, those who believe in the reverse are far more engaged in the process. They understand how important it is to vote. Sadly, there are 1 million of us that, probably for a range of reasons, don’t.

The missing million now appears to be a constant.

Millions and millions of people turned out to vote in Scotland for a positive change. Just imagine what sort of positive government we would have in New Zealand if we had an 85% turnout…

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