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peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,

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In a democracy should voting be compulsory

I am really undecided on this one. I see examples of both having effects I don't like. In Australia voting is compulsory so elections are often decided by a small group of swinging voters. This has resulted in the homogenisation of the two major political parties as they both fight over the middle ground. In the US I see elections swung by appealing to the extremes as an election where only half the population vote can be decided by encouraging a small extremist group to take part. The middle majority don't vote as they can't make up their minds. How do we get an election result that is truly indicative of the wishes of the whole population without homogenising the debate to the point where the parties are indestinguishable?

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    May 10 2012: I'm writing from Greece, the country that gave democracy to the people.
    Before expressing my thought, let me just tell you that according to our Constitution, voting is mandatory in Greece.

    All European country leaders are concerned about the elections we had last Sunday.
    I have relatives and friends who voted and others who didn't.
    We have been having this same conversation that you are asking every time we have election in Greece.
    I'm always one of those persons who wake up early in the morning every time we have elections and exercise my right to do so.
    Others say that since we have democracy not voting is a choice.
    Last Sunday the abstention rate was 35%. This means that a lot of people didn’t vote, although these were (and still are since we still have no government) very crucial elections. This resulted in 65% of the Greeks to choose for the rest
    Also, due to some recent amendments in our election laws, whichever party gets the most votes is given 50 more seats in our Parliament as a bonus and parties that do not get a least 3% of the votes (this is a new limit that never existed) are not represented in the Parliament.
    This resulted in 20% of those who voted not being represented in the Parliament, since small parties got less than 3%!!!!
    The thing is that the politicians are given the power to manipulate the masses and the voting results in their favor every time.
    If there was a mechanism ever to be invented that could protect the citizens from the above, then it does not matter if voting is mandatory or compulsory.
    Until then, politicians shall do as they please, no matter if you and I vote or not.

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