“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures." -The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21.
The electoral system in the UK is incredibly fair. Some people feel that our elections aren’t as representative as they could be due to low voter turnout, however, relative to man
y other countries our voting system is incredibly fair and gages the voice of the public a lot better than say the politically corrupt country of Nigeria, where the statistics from the Human Rights Watch say that 15,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence of the past 12 years due to the religion of political leaders.
Even in recent elections roughly 17,000 people were forced to flee from their homes after violence erupted due to scandalous stories being broadcasted saying that ballot boxes had been tarnished and filled with illegal votes. We’re lucky to have the right to vote and we should use it wisely; through it we are in effect deciding our destinies. We pick our leadership through a fair and democratic process and with such fairness comes a responsibility from both ends of the system- the voter- and the candidate. We can’t solely rely on and blame our elected leaders when things go wrong.
When this picture first appeared on my twitter feed I fell silent and still for a few moments all ranting on political matters and spying on politicians stopped and I came to halt. It’s quite a viral picture and it’s probably one of the most powerful images I’ve seen. We, as a society, the movers and shakers of the destiny of this country, belittle the power that we have as a collective and as individuals. Just because you haven’t been democratically elected to represent it does not mean your voice is any less important than any politician. I strongly believe we don’t fully realise the power that we hold in society. Every voice is important. I’m currently attending a sixth-form college in London and many of my peers tell me that even if they could vote at age 16 they wouldn’t vote. They don’t feel that they support any political party and they feel that they can’t change anything even if they tried. I do feel that this cynical attitude is prevalent amongst many people, old and young, and it’s this attitude that suppresses change in society. We are the only people holding ourselves back from change. It’s almost as if we’ve been conditioned to believe that politicians are an elitist closed off group and it’s acceptable to live in a despotic society. Reading this you’re probably thinking I’m being completely overdramatic, but it seems to me almost as if our society has been desensitised, meaning that we no longer want to push for change collectively.
Politicians are people too. Yes we hold them accountable for things that happen in society good or bad because they’ve been democratically elected, however, just like me and you they are only human. I’m not defending every politician for every action they make, but we need to ask ourselves just because we give our vote to a political party doesn’t mean we should give up our fight and insist that they will deal with it. I constantly see people complaining at politicians and so you should, keep them on their toes and make sure they’re sticking to what they pledge, but we can’t become lazy as a society and constantly point the finger. Use your MP/Cllr/PCC as your support when fighting a cause or campaigning; do not rely on them solely. As a society we are much stronger than any individual and we need to recognize that. All political parties aside, we are one community and we want the best for ourselves and those around us. Your vote is not the only way you can make your voice heard in society. Your vote is not the only way you can make your change and your vote is certainly not the ticket to solving all your problems.
We put our politicians on a pedestal and we devalue ourselves. When we rely so heavily on them, we devalue the impact of our voice and our actions in society. Remember that you don’t have to be elected or even vote to create change; you just have to want to make change happen.
By Chanté Joseph