The act of voting is the most common example associated with democracy. In fact, some might argue this is the purest form of democracy, symbolizing true equality. Everyone –regardless of their ethnicity, religion or wealth – has the right to elect his or her representative. The ‘one person, one vote’ requirement translates into the ‘all men and women are created equal’ principle. For this to become a reality, everyone entitled to vote should have the possibility to do so. In practice, however, many citizens around the world are disenfranchised and myriad legal, social and even physical obstacles hamper the political participation of individuals and groups.
The core of Irish elections is strong, but more could be done to bring contests into the 21st Century. In particular:
Postal voting reforms would allow more people to vote early at city and county council offices.
A sustained and continuous campaign of civic information would deepen citizen’s awareness of the ballot choices.
The voter registration processes need urgent attention to address inaccuracies.
And finally a permanent Electoral Commission would strengthen administrative processes.
Electoral malpractice – from subtle disinformation campaigns through to bribery, corruption and overt physical intimidation – undermine democratic contests across the world. A new report by Pippa Norris, Thomas Wynter and Sarah Cameron from the Electoral Integrity Project, which adds 44 election evaluations from 2017 to its rolling survey of elections, finds that electoral corruption and coercion are related to one another, and more prevalent in societies that are poorer, less democratic, and heavily dependent on natural resources.
The transition from war to peace is a long and often complicated process involving a number of components that range from the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants to agreements on the form and structure that national (and local) governments will take after the conflict.
Recent elections around the world have raised concerns about the procedures used for voter registration and their potential consequences. This article by Norris, Cameron and Wynter presents the results of the EIP Perceptions of Electoral Integrity survey evidence concerning the quality of these procedures in 161 countries that held 260 national elections from January 1 to June 30, 2017. The study concludes that it’s critical to strike the right trade-off between making registration accessible and making it secure.
Across the pond, one of the most remarkable developments in recent elections has been the propensity for younger citizens not only to vote – and also to cast ballots in massive numbers in support of older socialist leaders advocating left-wing economic policies last fashionable during the 1970s. What explains this?
Is the rising time of populism stalled? It is apparent that headline reports joyfully proclaiming the death of populism are premature. The results in a series of recent European elections suggest that voting support for this phenomenon is growing, due to a cultural backlash, even if leaders fail to win office, and support is unlikely to diminish as a long-term trend.
India, the largest democracy in the world, periodically conducts massive electoral exercises, which are often successful yet several problems have been reported, including electoral violence, lapses in voter registration, unequal access to finance and media. How do Indian states vary in their electoral performance? And what explains these differences?