Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Liberty and democracy? Don't we already have them?

A mere mortal could be forgiven for thinking that those in the western world generally live in liberal and democratic societies. For those of us in the UK, we elect at least one person every year to our local council. On top of that, we elect our members of the UK parliament typically every 4 or 5 years and members of the European Parliament every 5 years. And if that's not enough, some get a 'democracy bonus' of elections to either the Scottish Parliament, or Welsh Assembly.

With all these elections, you might think that we're swamped in democracy, living content in the knowledge that if we're not happy how our taxes are being spent, we can go and campaign against those responsible, and vote for someone else at the next election.

Sorry. Think again!

For all those opportunities to vote, we're actually a bit stuffed when it comes to democratic accountability in the UK. When we do vote, most of us get ignored. If we didn't vote for the winner, we're ignored. No one gives us the opportunity to say "Hey, if my preferred candidate doesn't get many votes, give my votes to the not so bad one.. not the complete moron".

But... hey. That's alright. At least some people did vote for them, which is rather better than the rest of our system, where the people making the decisions weren't elected at all.

Hail the rise of the QUANGO!

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