Why is the electorate not voting?
In a recent by-election, turnout was just over 30%. Why so low? How can we get more people to vote?
* Has the parliamentary system adapted to society as it is today? Our system was built up in the industrial era, at a time of limited education and at a time of rigid traditional bonds of place, class, and institutional social structures. Today's better educated, more affluent. and socially flexible population expects greater control and choice over the many aspects of their lives than today's politics provide. The people have moved on, but the system has stagnated.
* Has the Prime Minister become a President in all but title? Many people feel that the processes of our democracy do not offer them enough influence over political decisions -- this includes members of the main parties, who feel they have no say in policy-making, and are increasingly disaffected. Power has been removed from Parliament and from ministers. The Cabinet in London has been stripped of executive power. The Prime Minister has made himself into an unelected president. Anyone who steps out of line is either sacked or sent to the House of Lords and the Prime Minister hands power over to Brussels without Parliament or the people having any say in the matter.
* Why are our elected representatives held in low esteem and widely distrusted? The main political parties are considered to be too similiar and lacking in principle. The electoral system is seen as leading to unequal and wasted votes. Voting procedures are regarded by some as inconveneint and unattractive.
The present system of government is divided into five tiers. Four tiers, each with varying degrees of decision-making authority - represented by MEPs, MPs, MSPs and Local Councillors, and one tier with no decision-making authority - represented by Community Councillors. The system is cumbersome, excessively administrative, costly and therefore highly inefficient.
Scottish parliamentry elections use a type of proportional representation called the Additional Member System (AMS). AMS is a hybrid system which combines "first past the post" (constituency seats) with an element of "proportional representation" (regional seats). This means that the number of seats allocated to parties and individuals in the Scottish Parliament seeks to reflect their share of the overall votes cast. The overall system is complicated, confusing to many, and could result in one party (such as Labour) having a majority of MSPs but a minority of the total votes cast.
Scottish local government elections use a single transferable vote system (STV) of preferential voting, providing proportional representation within a multi-seat ward system. The STV system is designed to minimize "wasted" votes while ensuring that votes are expressed for individual candidates rather than for party lists. The combination of the different national and local voting systems has created much confusion, contributing to the disenfranchising of many voters.
Some 72% of new regulations in 2009 were imposed on the Scottish people by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. The Lisbon Treaty effectively gives, undemocratically, sovereign authority of the United Kingdom over to Brussels. There is very little accountability within the present system, at any level.
In Scotland, over 55% of the currently available workforce is directly or indirectly employed by the state, and generates no wealth. With an ageing population the wealth generating private sector is struggling to pay for the expanding public sector. This is an unsustainable situation. The remedy is to reduce the proportion of directly and indirectly employed civil servants in the working population. This would allow the private sector to grow sufficiently to provide the additional tax revenues required, to provide a well funded social support structure, and to grow the economic sphere and improve the availability of jobs and higher wages.
We invite comments on these statements to assist us to formulate proposals for an improved quality of Democratic Government in Scotland.