There are always a lot of elections around, but now with the election for the American President, the EU Referendum in the UK, the Scottish Parliament Elections and next year the Bundestags Wahl in Germany and the vote for the French President and the National Assembly and I am sure plenty of other votes from municipal, over local, to state/federal elections coming up, I thought I might talk about why it is so important to vote.
My first reason might sound pretentious, but it is the truth. We are so incredibly lucky to have a choice. People fought for all of us being able to cast a vote and to be able to take part in our government. Also there are so many countries in the world where free elections and sometimes even elections in general are more of an utopia than the reality. So, please, don’t waste your vote by simply not going through with it.
Now maybe there are some of you who will be like, ‘Meh, it doesn’t matter who I vote for, they are not going to do anything for me anyways.’/’All parties stand for the same thing anyways.’ I am not going to tell you that you might not be right, however with choices like not voting at all there come risks. When the disappointment with big parties rises and their support declines, the whole voting turnout may decline as well, but usually the percentage that goes to smaller parties will rise. This is not necessarily a bad thing as in many countries such as Germany, France and Scandinavian, countries have multi party systems that work well, with parties like greens, liberals and slightly more right or left wing parties being a normal part of the system. However, especially in the current global situation, this gives opportunities to more extreme parties or candidates as well.
Let’s look at the fairly recent European Parliament Elections. There was an average turnout of 42.62% across the countries, which is shocking. It is not unusual for a EP election to have such a low turnout, but if you think about it, this is way below half of the EU’s inhabitants deciding on a parliament that can have an effect on all of us. Back to what I meant about giving chances to smaller, potentially more extreme parties. In both the UK and France, the UK Independence Party and the Front National have gained over 24% of the votes, winning the elections in their respective countries. Both parties stand for very nationalistic values and have both had controversy about being extremists, with UKIP being more moderate than the FN. In Germany the only one year old AfD, also considered more right wing, managed to receive 7% of the vote, with this result in a local or federal election, they would have been in parliament.
With Trump and a lot of right wing parties across Europe rising, it is important to cast your vote and to make sure that even if not your favourite party/candidate wins, to vote for someone just to make sure a party or candidate you strongly disagree with does not win the elections.
One more reason to me is: we are young! We are a new generation of voters with different views on the world than our parents and grandparents. In a lot of views we are more liberal, more accepting than previous generations have been, still a lot of young people do not vote and waste their voice. If we want to live in countries where the voice of the younger generation is heard we need to cast votes and to show people what we want from our countries and our politicians and we cannot do that if we simply abstain from elections. Even if you just go and leave your ballot paper blank, your vote will be counted and you won’t just be someone they think is simply uninterested in what happens to their country or community.
So please, when it comes to elections in your country make sure you vote. Don’t waste your voice and take an active part in what you want from your country. But more than just casting a vote, make an informed choice. Don’t vote blindly for the most popular candidate, but please look what they stand for and what they believe in. We are lucky to have the choice to inform ourselves through the media or just by going to local hustings with candidates. Something not many generations before us had.
YOU HAVE A VOTE, YOU HAVE A CHOICE… Use it!