Friday, 7 May 2010

Misrule Britannia

Picture the scene in a hypothetical country, sometime early in the 21st century, preparing for an election...
  • Behind closed doors the media decide which of the leading parties shall be favoured
  • The media then gives these anointed parties the vast bulk of the attention throughout the campaign
  • On the glorious election day some polling stations run out of ballot papers
  • Other polling stations don't have the latest list of voters
  • Long queues form at many polling stations, despite a normal turnout
  • Come 10pm the polls close...well, they do in some places, denying hundreds of people who had been queueing for an hour or more the chance to vote
  • Elsewhere people are allowed in to the polling station before the doors are closed, and voting continues for an extra half hour, despite the media rushing out an exit poll immediately after 10pm which could quite probably be observed by these late voters
  • The exit poll indicates a hung parliament, but nobody can agree what this means - is the largest party first in line to form a coalition, or does the sitting PM get to go first? Who will decide? Why is there no clear consensus about how to proceed?
  • In almost all constituencies the majority of votes count for nothing
  • The number of seats won by each party bears little resemblance to their share of the vote
What would an impartial observer make of all this? Would it qualify as a free and fair election? Can this constitution be regarded as democratic? Should this country be exporting democracy to other countries around the world?

2 comments:

Anon said...

Vote fraud in certain marginal constituencies?

- Aangirfan

forfar-loon said...

Aye, forgot to mention that Aangirfan! The Economist has a nice article this week with the thoughts of two election observers from Nigeria and Jamaica, both bemoaning the flaws in the voting system here. O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us...