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charlie, computer cat

April 2018



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So, according to a survay done in Germany, which I found out about here, Germans are disillusioned with their democracy. As is I think everyone else I know. So, where do you stand?

Poll #862947 Disatisfaction

I am disillusioned with democracy in my country as a whole

Don't know


I'm not disillusioned about democracy. I'm cynical about politicians (I wouldn't say disillusioned, because I'm not sure I ever really had many illusions about them) and increasingly so about politics, and I'm definitely disillusioned by New Labour (have just been filling in UNISON application, and was rather struck by the fact that I was ticking the box for the general political fund rather than the affiliated one!), but I still believe in democracy. I also suspect that we probably have only ourselves and our apathy to blame if there isn't actually anyone decent to vote for...
Also (following on from topicaltim's post last night), I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are disillusioned with democracy actually bother to take part in it...
I think the illusion I had was that there was some sense in which I was going to be represented but increasingly I feel that there's no way for me to make my voice heard as the system is right now. If we had a more representative voting system I probably wouldn't feel so frustrated but that isn't likely to happen any time soon...
I'm not so sure that PR is really the answer. After all Germany *does* have a PR system. The author of the article you linked to sees Germany's coalition as part of the problem, and generally PR systems are far more likely to produce coalitions than first-past-the-post. I think the author of the article makes a good point about needing to get people more involved with their communities, but I'm not quite sure how that could be achieved...
Yeah, see I tend to the opinion that coalitions would produce better results, partly because it would lead to less pointless slagging each other off in the papers I hope and partly because it would be a change, which is something that often can re-energise people.

I know what you mean about the communities thing. That's a bit of a theme at the moment when I listen to the news - a lot of stuff that the government would like to change, like the respect stuff or peoples drinking habits or parents getting involved in their kids educations, is just not something you can legislate for but it's often what makes the real differences.
I think a coalition might be a good thing next time round, as I don't think New Labour can be turned round as long as it stays in power and no matter what Cameron says I could never welcome a Tory government. I wouldn't want it to last more than one Parliament, though. The problem with coalitions is that they have to tread such a fine line of compromises that very little actually gets done. It was quite astonishing when Oxfordshire went Conservative after 20 years of coalitions how much happened, and how quickly. And there's a lot of stuff (the environment, mostly) that needs action.

I think a lot of the trouble with local issues is that the current government is very much into centralisation of power. Too many decisions on local issues are being handed down from Whitehall and councils can't do anything about them, so you don't get that dialogue between people and politicians at a level that would actually be meaningful.
It's true that coalitions can lead to inaction, although I think that happens more in a system like ours where coalitions are rare. If they are the norm then there's more willingness to buckle down and get things done, although it's still not perfect - you trade off blunting the more extreme ends of each party by slowing things down, I think.

Definitely on the centralization of power. There seems to be an attitude that if things are left to local government we'll get some kind of a postcode lottery on all kinds of things which is rather unfair - after all, the local councils are elected officials so we'll still get to hold them to account for this stuff...
With democracy in my country as a whole? No -- I'm frustrated with the concept of the electoral college, I'm cynical about politicians and interest groups, I'm concerned about voters being twisted and manipulated by ad campaigns instead of facts... but democracy? Not really. Then again, I live in a democratic republic (or a republican democracy) and in a jungle of federal, state and local law and politics. There's a lot to be upset about, and a lot to like.
For me, I've come more and more to feel that I'm not represented in our democracy as it is and there's no way I'm going to be. Unless they make fundamental changes to our system, my vote is always going to be an empty gesture (I'm still going to do it, but the point remains...)
If people had said that about Labour 100 years ago, the Liberals would still be one of the two main parties.
Well, I did say I was still going to do it...

Also though, I hardly feel like the Lib Dems represent me any more as they trim sails and become more populist and less honest under Ming. I like the idea of one of those systems where you can rank people so that I'd feel like I could express the fact that I support some Green policies, some Lib Dem and even one or two Labour policies(!)
Oh, I know you are. My point was that things do change, but slowly.

I hardly feel like the Lib Dems represent me any more

But aren't you a member? Why can't you push for what you want your party to be?

(and yes, I know it's not that easy, and it's not like I ever did much when I was a member of the Labour Party, but as a grassroots member you *are* in a position to influence policy. Which is more than the rest of us poor schmucks are.)
I am, just about. Mostly I don't know how to push. I don't have much of a sense of how I can get involved - are there local meetings? I get newsletters in the mail and I do get to vote for officers for the party like party chairman but not a lot else. I suppose I could go to conference if I could get the time off, which would be interesting as I have only a vague idea of how they work. I wish they had an absentee ballot for those - that would be an interesting step towards getting more people involved... I guess it's about time and energy - to a certain extent, I want things to be better but I don't want to have to fix them myself!
There must be a constituency party, which is where you'd start; go to meetings, put your views. Conference delegates are sent as representatives of their constituency party and should vote in line with their wishes, just as party MPs should vote in line with Conference's wishes.

I want things to be better but I don't want to have to fix them myself!

As I said in my first comment, I suspect that we probably have only ourselves and our apathy to blame if there isn't actually anyone decent to vote for ;-)
we probably have only ourselves and our apathy to blame if there isn't actually anyone decent to vote for ;-)

Fair point :) I wonder when/where my consituency party meets - after all, it could be another volunteering thing for me :)

brisingamen is a local Lib Dem activist in Kent, and blogs about it quite a lot.
Coo, you did better than me - I tried to go through the national site and couldn't find anything online... Not much in forthcoming events, unfortunatly!
Probably worth contacting them and saying you'd like to get involved, though.

I guess so many people who join political parties just want to pay their money as a gesture of support that they don't even bother to get them more involved. Which is a shame, really.
Well PR is hardly going to fix that problem, as PR generally means you don't even have a local representative any more, which means you have even less of someone "representing you". :)
But I would feel that my vote had contributed to someone with views close to mine being in the legislature, which doesn't happen right now.

'ere you go, 'ere you go, 'ere you go

I'm a Churchillian on democracy: the worst possible form of government except when compared to all the others. I can't think of a better way to deal with politics as such. I am deeply ill at ease with the way all societies, bar none, deal with power; we waste our collective time on war and aggression instead of making this world habitable and decent for all.

We need a LOT more women involved, at every level.
Yeah, I'm not against democracy per se, but it would be nice if we had a rather better version of it here...
The thing that upsets me the most is that no matter how many times people vote for something and it passes, the officials will always find some loophole to overturn it, so we end up seeing the same issue on the ballots just a few years later. More and more, I feel as though my vote doesn't even matter.

Also, I can't stand how winning votes seem to go to the highest bidder. I wish that money had far less influence in campaigning.
Yeah, we don't get to vote on individual propositions here so we don't get that quite so much in our faces. The money thing drives me nuts too - I'd like to have state funding for parties here but I don't think there's much chance of it.
Well, as a German, I had to vote for yes.
But I'm actually not so much disillusioned with democracy but frustrated about the choices we're given (as I suspect many people in the survey were too). Because the differences between our two major parties - and to a certain degree of the three minor ones - are often pretty much nonexsistant. And why vote at all if things are going to stay the same anyway?
yeah, that's quite similar to us these days, sadly.
I'm pleased as punch with today's electoral results in my country, and am daring to hope for a wider victory still. But I nevertheless feel wary of what the future will bring, even with an opposition-lead sliver of government, and scarred by 6 years of Bush.

Frankly, even with this electoral refresh button, the vested interests that influence, even own, the political architecture, will continue to play their part. The opposition's success today may yet be undermined to serve these interests.

To my mind, the threat of those interests to the very structure of this democracy remain, and they are not sitting still either.

Still, between the blatant truth-telling of linktv.org, and the local successes of right-headed politicians like my Mayor, these have actually lead me back to a place where I dare to love my country - or at least those elements I can love, and to hope for the future. A terribly dangerous proposition, I know.
Btw, I have a slightly annoying inability to read all the comments in your post ... there is no navigation bar on the right for me to roll down...