What Democracy?

Reading time: 3-4 minutes
Reading accompaniment(s): Something very strong 

Believe it or not, I have work to do. Important and time sensitive work, might I add. But I cannot even begin to consider starting this work before I get to grips with today’s – Friday the thirteenth’s, no less – catastrophic news. I mean, really. What on Earth is going on? 

I thought the vote for Brexit was bad, and that was won by a less than convincing 52%. But to go to bed with the nightmarish news of the exit polls; to hope that this was a practical joke on the side of all of those who really voted against the Tories; and to wake up to confirmation that the Conservatives had indeed won the UK’s gazzillionth general election in the space of four years, by a landslide of seventy-eight seats – their biggest majority in over thirty years, was to be hit by an apocalyptic hangover that no dosage of painkillers will ever be able to subside.

But instead of diving full-throttle into an unabridged tirade into what is wholly wrong with this result and the bleached-blonde buffoon spearheading it, I would like to look a little more closely at the numbers involved. 44% of voters yesterday voted for the Conservative Party, yet in return they were presented with 56% of the parliamentary seats. In contrast, 11% of votes went to the Liberal Democrats, yet they received only a 2% share of seats. Labour, it seems, was the only major party that actually acquired close to what it deserved: 32% of votes related to 31% of seats. 

Though, of course, if you take into account the total size of the electorate, the results appear even more skewed, with the winning party – now basically 100% in control of Britain’s future – having received a vote from less than a third of those registered to vote, and even less if you consider all those who are not registered, plus all of the sixteen and seventeen year olds who, as yet, are not permitted to vote. (Just take a moment to think about TIME’s Person of the Year 2019 who, if she were a Brit, would not have been able to cast her vote. (Nor can she for that matter cast a vote in Sweden for over a year, but that problem I’ll leave up to the Swedes, as I think we have enough on our plates right now.))

While we’re on the numbers game, that brings me back to Brexit (urgh). While I don’t believe that 52% is a big enough majority to pass such a momentous change (which, at the time and perhaps still now, we have little to no idea how it will affect us and indeed others (but clearly no one cares about them)), I cannot deny that it is a majority. But what, exactly, is it a majority of? Those who felt clued up enough on the murky, bottomless, unceasingly selfish pit that seems to be the process of Britain exiting the European Union, to cast a well-thought-through or at least momentarily-thought-about vote? I voted. To remain. But was I clued up? Hell no! How could I have been when even those campaigning on both sides didn’t have the foggiest of what leaving would entail? I just felt something deep within telling me that it was an utterly preposterous idea to even contemplate. And by Jove, I was right! But I could have questioned my gut. I could have thought, “Hmm, I am not one hundred per cent sure about this. I do not feel confident enough in my knowledge of the potential outcomes to vote in this referendum, and do not wish to vote for something I later regret because of this lack of knowledge and foresight.” Perhaps this is how many who didn’t vote in 2016 felt. Perhaps not. But you simply cannot know, unless you ask each and every one of them. But to presume that these non-voters couldn’t care less about Brexit is a very dangerous assumption indeed. Let’s instead assign them the opinion of ‘Not Sure’. Brexit would then have had the following statistics:

Leave: 37%
Remain: 35%
Not Sure: 28%

Even less convincing now, hey?

It seems to me that no matter the question, the policies or the unfortunate hairstyle, the voting system that we currently use is simply not democratic. And if at its core it is undemocratic, how can we ever trust those who benefit from its quirks?

I have yet to step outside or even open my blinds today, for fear of ridicule and abandonment from my adopted Dutch neighbours. But at least I am already here; I escaped with some time to spare. The deadline is looming, but, friends, you still have time. Mass emigration is the only solution I see. Grab your passports and pack a bag, if you move fast you may just make it out in time.

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