Those regular readers of thesnailofhappiness.com will know that she was unhappy after the elections we had here in Britain because of the low turnout. I wasn’t exactly pleased myself and not only because once more I felt that my writing “Buy my book!” on the ballot paper in crayon had gone unheeded.
It seems that democracy and the process that goes with it has lost its appeal across most of Europe, and in other countries too. I decided to see how true this assertion was, if only because it meant I could play with Excel and graphs. After my last post, I was going to plot the graph of Turnout on my kitchen cupboards but decided against it on the grounds that I would only have to clean it off afterwards.
The good news is that the UK weren’t the most apathetic country in Europe (and don’t think that Italy, France or Ireland were, it’s just their turnout percentages weren’t quoted on the BBC website from whence I extracted these figures). Look at Slovakia – now find a ruler and measure the figure off the y-axis. See? 13.1%. Now that’s voter apathy!
I suppose we could let them off because they are newbies to the whole EU massive-waste-of-money-unless-you-happen-to-be-on-the-gravy-train, er, Parliament election process. In fact, if you are going to be kind then I guess all the countries up to Romania can be ‘let off’ for a similar reason. So, really the first country that should hang its collective democratic head in shame is…Portugal. You thought I was going to put the UK, didn’t you? Well, I nearly did because we’re next.
In fact, if democracy requires a majority of people to vote for someone or something, then really any election needs more than 50% of the eligible voters to actually get off their backsides and put a cross in a box. So, a big shoutout (I believe that is the kids’ hippy-hop street talk term) for Sweden (just), Denmark, Greece, Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The last two merit a huge parade with beer and flags – their turnout was 90%. Perhaps voting is compulsory in those countries, or perhaps the BBC put the decimal point in the wrong place.
So I wondered, as a world of Excel graphs beckoned, are there any common factors that could predict turnout in each of these countries? I took a serious, well-considered approach and multiplied numbers with other numbers to create a graph that fits on the page. I chose factors that are likely to influence voter turnout (or that I could find figures for in a quick Google search). Rulers at the ready (and possibly a magnifying glass):
I am pretty sure that with some analysis, that a combination of chocolate consumption and Eurovision wins will reliably predict the turnout of the next election.
My ideas for ensuring a good turnout? I’m glad you asked.
- Make voting compulsory. People not voting will be forced to watch ALL party political broadcasts at one sitting. Plus they won’t be entitled to the free chocolate and wine that people who DO vote will be allowed
- Actually, there should be an age range which if you fall into, you have to vote. Set it from 15 to 70, and I won’t tell their parents if the 15 year-olds drink some wine afterwards. If you are older than 70, you don’t have to vote unless you want to as you have most likely earned the day off, what with paying taxes, being unpaid carers for your children’s children and all that sort of stuff.
- Have bouncy castles, picnic sites and bands playing at polling stations so that families can make a day of it.
- Have a box to tick on the ballot form marked “None of the above. Please select some more candidates for me to choose from.” If a majority of voters tick that box, start again with different candidates. But I’m not sure what to do about the wine and stuff – it might be used as an excuse to have another day out with free choccy and the like. Perhaps THAT could be an issue that people could stand for.
- Link the number of seats available in the European Parliament for each country to its number of Eurovision wins. Or chocolate consumption. Or both.
Right, that’s that sorted. Now to deal with climate change and making nuts in chocolate illegal…