In the first National Democracy week , how can we encourage more people to engage in national and local elections?
By Jess Clayton
22 million votes were 'wasted' in the 2017 general election, a striking figure ahead of national democracy week. It becomes increasingly clear that our current electoral system is not one that encourages democratic participation. Proportional representation is the fairest way to ensure that when people turn up to the ballot box, their vote genuinely has an impact.
It is fair to say that our democracy has changed dramatically over the past few decades, but with only 208 female MPs and 51 BME MPs, there is evidently a long way to go in making our democratic representatives reflective of society. This is important in engaging those who historically have not had their voices heard. It also must be said that the current government are failing to address the current intergenerational unfairness, another factor leaving many feeling disengaged.
Currently most hard working young people will never be able to afford a home of their own, are about to have the opportunities afforded to EU citizens taken away from them and are faced with a public sector struggling to function. The government must do more to engage people in elections and their recent ID pilots show their disdain for the issue.
However, last weekend we witnessed over 100,00 people turn out on Whitehall to march for a final say on the Brexit deal. Both remainers and leavers deserve a say on what the government negotiates and this was a clear example of people wanting to engage in democracy.
Voting in both national and local elections is a right that has been hard won and one that we should celebrate. By turning out to a vote in a general or local election, you are registering your say on how you believe the country should be run. The Conservative party have long benefited from low turn outs in general and local elections, but they must recognise that overall it is society that loses when people are not encouraged to turn out to vote."
Jess was a Lib Dem candidate in the 2015 Sevenoaks District Elections, and now works in Westminster