On coming Sunday it’s the German federal elections. Last week I send off my votes (we get to vote for a candidate on the local level and a party’s list on the state level, so that gives me two votes). That means I already voted in Sunday’s election.
I don’t live in Germany, but it is a moral duty to exercise my civil right of participating in the elections. As I left Germany at the tender age of twelve, I had to write a few lines on why voting would affect me and prove that I know the workings of the political system (once you are 14 or over who you leave Germany this wouldn’t have applied). I dragged my feet, but at least my arguments weren’t hard to find (there is the possibility of returning to Germany in the future and having a thorough understanding of the German political system as I was taught the German curriculum in high school). My “efforts” were rewarded when I received my ballot paper a month ago.
So why did I jump through all those hoops, invested time, paid postage for international mailing, and informed myself (at least a bit) on what was on offer?
Because it is important to vote!
It’s not because I studied politics for 5 years. No, it’s because I thoroughly believe that it is important to vote.
The year 2016 came with a few shocks. Brexit was so unexpected. Not everyone has the same opinions as grumpy taxi drivers in Newcastle. Turns out at least half of the people who actually put some effort into going to the polls do… And how was the election of the 45th President of the US possible?
And then this year I experienced something very uncomfortable. I was not allowed to vote in elections that could have a major negative impact on my life. At the same time, many people decided that they didn’t want to vote because they did no longer believe in the political class, did not care, or were dead against both of the finalists to win. It was the French Presidential Election. I talked some sense into one person and send her to the polls, telling her that even if she doesn’t want to vote anymore, to go vote for me as I cannot vote in France.
I felt vulnerable.
I was worried to a point that I slept badly for many nights.
Voting is important.
Even if I am one of many people voting, my voice might the grain of sand tilting the scales into a different direction. I will have nothing to reproach myself if things go wrong, except not having convinced enough people to follow their civic duty. In voting, I gain the right to moan about and criticise the government, even if the parties that I vote for are in the opposition or not even in parliament.
If I don’t vote and let’s say populists or fanatics make it into parliament, then I am responsible. If I don’t vote and I am unhappy with the government, then that is entirely my fault, who knows maybe my teeny tiny voice would have changed something. If I don’t vote, then no one will possibly represent or defend me in parliament. If I don’t vote then I am okay with whatever happens. If I don’t vote then I vote for the winner/majority and that even if I cannot stand them at all!
Of course when it is time to go to the polling station or the post box then most people won’t have a party or a candidate who they relate to 100%. But that is not a reason not to vote. Inform yourself and then vote for what you can relate to the most, even if it is only 25%, because the party that you 100% cannot relate to, shall not get a free ride through your not voting. Remember that if you don’t vote you are always giving a statistical advantage (in terms of percentages, not participation) to the winners.
So, when you have the possibility and right to vote, then go and vote! Make use of your civil and democratic right and use it, it is your civic duty! It is free! And remember, it is the best weapon we have against populism!
© Solveig Werner 2017. All rights reserved.