ELECTION 101 FOR VOTERS IN MAY’S ELECTION
I can’t go into May without something on elections in SA. So here are some of my thoughts on democratic elections in general; especially for first-time voters;
1. Elections are held in democratic countries to give citizens their rightful say on who rules the country, how they want it to be run and how they want to feel about being well governed
2. In a party-political system, citizens are represented in government/parliament. In some countries citizens even vote for a specific person to represent them in government. If that person does not carry out the tasks expected of them, citizens may vote them out at the next election
3. Different parties emerge as groupings of like-minded people based on common ideology, concerns and issues; with consensus on how to act on their ideas, forming policies and implementing them for the benefit of the country. Each party believes that its policies are best-suited for the citizens’ needs and for the country’s growth, economy and peaceful prosperity (though some countries, sadly, rulers seem to thrive on chaos and war)
4. No political party owns the treasury or other SOEs. The state does, so the party that wins the election has to manage the state funds and resources to run the country effectively. If the governing party fails at this, citizens must choose a more competent party.
5. In order to choose a party to represent them, citizens may attend party meetings and rallies, listen to political representatives’ views, policies; observe how they conduct themselves and compare stories, issues and parties. Then they decide which party best aligns with their own views, attitudes and perspectives on the society they want to live in, and whether that party is capable of delivering on its promises
6. BUT here’s the thing: citizens are both emotional and rational beings. And whereas electing the government of one’s country SHOULD be one of the most rational of decisions, far too often, citizens fall prey to old myths, are swayed by politicians’ promises, blindly follow the emotional but hollow calls and end up unquestioningly voting for a party that does not deliver on its promises for a better country.
So, before the May election dawns, ensure that you put on your rational cap, that you take a global view of the consequences of your vote by reading, listening, discussing and comparing the party-specific offerings. Make every effort to engage with the media, not simply as a user but as a concerned citizen.
Make your mark count to make your country better.