British citizens resident overseas wanting to vote are still denied such rights after 15 years abroad and yet British democracy is in terminal decline, as Corporate power, unrepresentative politicians and apathetic voters leave the UK ‘increasingly unstable’, says study.
Surely this is when additional barriers to participation in the political process such as the 15 year rule should be removed and British citizens encouraged to vote including those resident overseas?
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In an interview with the Guardian, Stuart Wilks-Heeg, the report’s lead author, warned that Britons could soon have to ask themselves “whether it’s really representative democracy any more?”
“the depth of public disillusionment and the range of ways voters are turning away from politics revealed by the latest study could shock even those involved”
“The reality is that representative democracy, at the core, has to be about people voting, has to be about people engaging in political parties, has to be about people having contact with elected representatives, and having faith and trust in elected representatives, as well as those representatives demonstrating they can exercise political power effectively and make decisions that tend to be approved of,” said Wilks-Heeg.
“All of that is pretty catastrophically in decline. How low would turnout have to be before we question whether it’s really representative democracy at all?” The UK’s democratic institutions were strong enough to keep operating with low public input, but the longer people avoided voting and remained disillusioned, the worse the problem would get”, said Wilks-Heeg.
“Over time, disengagement skews the political process yet further towards those who are already more advantaged by virtue of their wealth, education or professional connections. And without mass political participation, the sense of disconnection between citizens and their representatives will inevitably grow.”
Membership of political parties and election turnout has fallen significantly in the last decade, with only 1% of the electorate belonging to a party, and just over six out of 10 eligible voters going to the ballot box in the 2010 general election and barely one in three in European and local elections. But the depth of public disillusionment and the range of ways voters are turning away from politics revealed by the latest study could shock even those involved.
Sadiq Khan, shadow justice secretary and former chair of human rights group, Liberty, said: “What I find really troubling is there’s no shortage of big issues which we must get to grips with – the economy, the future of our health, education and social care systems, our environment – many of which grab the attention of the public, but there’s a disconnect when it comes to party politics.”