Democracy 101

by Karen Poertzgen

ELECTIONS! Aren’t they awesome? Flabbergasting, astonishing, entertaining, exciting? Finally, “WE” get our say in what “THEY” do up there; with our money, with our lives, and with our future. On the 22nd of September elections were held in Germany and, as you all know, Merkel was re-elected. As you all also know, the fact that I’m not dancing around in circles happily makes me a minority. Or doesn’t it?

I guess there is one thing you need to know about me before reading this: I take politics very seriously. So on Monday evening, after I had recovered a bit from the shock of the election-results, I wanted to find out everything connected to them. That was the moment I stumbled over the official numbers and figures. Yes, Merkel and her party got 41.5% of the votes. Yes, over 71.5% of the eligible voters made use of their right, which is quite high. And yes, the established opposition parties all had horrible results (even though they pretended to be satisfied); most say they deserved it.

I knew from some friends of mine that they had cast a so-called “protest” vote. I knew that the number of people who spoiled a ballot was small, but I found it was still more than some of the small parties got. For the first time I realized that there were close to 30 small parties; half of which I had never heard of, half of which did not show up on my ballot card. I made a joke of adding up their numbers. I arrived at a total of 6,855,044 votes/people.

6.8 million people voted for a party that did not make it into the Bundestag (a party needs more than 5% of the votes). 6.8 – this is almost twice the amount of votes than the 3rd biggest party got. 6.8 million people who will not be represented for the next 4 years. Let me put it differently: 11% of the persons entitled to vote, 15.5% of the ones who took their vote.

stivers-8-19-02-democracy-is-about-choice
Source: Mark Stivers

You cannot tell me that this is ok. It is not ok that 10-15% of the population is not represented in their parliament. These people are more than clearly unsatisfied with the policies conducted in the last 4-8 maybe even 12 years or more. You may say that these are protest-voters, however, they might actually believe in the party they voted for. I cannot decide which would be worse. In any case, isn’t this very sad – and wrong? Don’t misunderstand me here: I do see the point in having a minimum requirement for a party to enter the Bundestag, but at the same time I wasn’t aware what this meant for large parts of the population.

I can’t remember how many articles I have read in the last days stating that the opposition parties have to move more to the center of the political spectrum. I disagree! I’m convinced it would help a lot if they had a clear message for a change. Where that places them on the spectrum is secondary. Maybe then the 15% of the citizens, who cast their vote for a party that is not represented now, might reconsider their choice in the next elections.

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One thought on “Democracy 101”

  1. the images kept below the article is really an outstanding one and it is most appropritate to define what democracy is ( that is present state)

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