Pay As You Go Elections - the Future for Participatory Democracy? - Page 2
Often when we discuss democracy we base our assumptions on the so called “participatory democracy” i.e. the general democratic process and voter turnout has a meaning in itself. In other words high voter turnout equals a good democracy. I truly believe that a high voter turnout is good for any democracy and that all elections merit a high participation. Despite this, I have to realize that a high voter turnout in itself doesn't constitute a democracy. Remember that the old Soviet Union had a voter turnout of 98% and I wouldn't categorize that country as an unmitigated success as far as democracy goes.
I would rather say that in a participatory democracy, it is the possibility to participate that constitutes the democracy, not the actual act itself. Then it is for us as citizens to choose to participate or not. For me the choice is obvious – to participate – but we are not all political animals and that has to be respected too. It is important to remember that we get the elected officials we deserve, and the fact that decisions are taken by the ones that turn up is still largely true.
Despite a dwindling party membership (not a big problem in itself) and voter turnout (a very big problem) I am convinced that there is a high political interest and will in our society, just consider Los Indignados and Occupy Wall Street movements. Whatever you think about their ideas, they have managed to rouse the masses and spear head a political participation that we haven't seen since the 1970's. But contrary to that movement, this time ideas and their enthusiasm are not reaching today's political parties.
Today's political system was largely created some 200 years ago. It suited the political debate and strife in another society. And yes, this system will undergo changes that we have yet to see.
Of course I can see that my reasoning is somewhat halting because this pay as you go election was organised by a [large] established political party, so the election took place in an already set surrounding.Continued on the next page