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Referendums... Referenda? Whatever they're called, are they a good or bad idea?


indi
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Do you think allowing the public to vote on stuff is:  

46 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you think allowing the public to vote on stuff is:

    • a good idea?
    • a bad idea?
    • an ironic subject for a poll?


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Just seen this:

 

Swiss minaret vote: Projections suggest ban backed

 

 

Projections from exit polls suggest that voters in Switzerland have backed a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, Swiss TV says.

 

The result is not yet official, but the BBC's correspondent in Berne says if it is confirmed, it would be a surprise.

 

The proposal was backed by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which claims minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

 

Opponents say a ban would discriminate and that the ballot has stirred hatred.

 

The government opposes a ban.

 

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets. Official referendum results are due at 1700GMT.

 

Under the Swiss system, a referendum result is not binding unless a majority of canton voting districts approve it, as well as a majority of voters.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8385069.stm

 

Now this seems like a fucking ridiculous issue to be taken to a referendum. All it's done is allow the Swiss people the opportunity to show themselves up as racist idiots on a global stage and in doing so potentially cause huge damage to their economy should Muslim investors decide to withdraw their money in protest. If you ignore the racist subtext then it becomes a totally trivial issue and it makes me wonder if the Swiss government is capable of deciding upon anything for itself. Hobnobs or Rich Tea for the ambassador's reception? Hobnobs or Rich Tea!?! :frantic: Arrrrghh, I can't decide!! Fuck it, let the people decide; REFERENDUM!!!

 

Surely the whole point of having a government is that we vote them in to make the vast majority of such decisions for us!?! Otherwise, what are we paying them for? Personally, I think the overwhelming majority of decisions that a government might have to make fall within one of two categories which would preclude them for being taken to referendum, they're either too trivial to bother the public about, or they're too complicated and important to allow the decision to be made by people who don't know anything about the subject.

 

I'm not expecting too much argument relating to the first group, but I'm sure people will disagree with me over the second, so here's my thinking:

 

I think most people would normally accept the logic that important decisions requiring a high level of understanding of complex issues are better made by people who know what they're doing; and what could be more important or complex than running a country? You wouldn't get on a plane piloted by a referendum of the passengers or allow a surgeon to operate on you based upon the majority decision of the other patients in the hospital, would you? What's the difference? Now, I'm not saying that the public should have no say whatsoever; if either of those experts did a bad job then they should be sacked and replaced by someone who could do a better job and the same goes for governments. Even then, there's an issue with whether or not the public can be trusted to make a rational decision about what to do. Most people don't vote and the majority of those who do, cast their vote based upon reasons other than logic or rationale - I'm not excluding myself from that by the way, I don't think I could bring myself to vote Tory, whatever happened, for example. However, it is important that people get to have a say on what decisions are made "in their name" so although it's not perfect it's the best system we've got at the moment and people should make more use of it and until they do the issue of referenda should be well and truly off the table.

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Not sure i agree or even understand your point but nice ranting anyway.

 

Did it sound like a rant? Wasn't meant to be, wrote it over the last hour or so, getting up and doing other things in between and coming back to it when I could be arsed, almost binned it halfway through after getting bored, so I wouldn't class it as much of a rant myself.

 

Anyway, my point is that I don't think referendums are a good idea because so few decisions are suited to being voted on by the public for the reasons I gave above. There's been a lot of talk about them recently - over Europe and so-on - so when I saw this example of the kind of ridiculous outcomes they can lead to I thought I'd ask people what they thought.

 

Just considered the possibility that your post is a very clever joke, if it is: :lol:

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Indi, I will chip in.

 

Within the statism, Switzerland's model is more democratic then the rest.

 

Now I am not familiar with the exact procedures themselves so I will refrain from commenting on how this issue get to be voted in referendum.

 

I personally much prefer a horizontal-authority (anarchism) rather than a top-down authority (statism).

 

However within statism, I would like to see the authority belonging to the people as much as possible instead of the top few.

 

I get what you mean by having subjects decided by non-specialist. But minarets is not a technical subject anyway. It is cultural, religious and exactly the thing what the non-techinal non-specialist populace should decide on.

 

It is a much better democracy. And on a more serious note government is easier to be toppled in switzerland model as compared to say, the UK model.

 

And Switzerland is doing very well as a country !

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certain issues shouldn't be open to a 'democratic' vote, ie inalienable rights. people should not have the ability to vote in order to strip others of their rights. that's not democracy. and other things that have a specific legal process to follow - for instance planning laws - shouldn't simply be decided by public vote either, as it undermines the due process that the entire society and economy otherwise follows. i'd say this issue is a bit of both - freedom of religion and a planning issue. there should be no ban on erecting a religious building simply because some people are racist, xenophobic, while construction of each minaret should be decided on its own merits by the relevant planning authorities.

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It won't be long before our democracy is eroded away to nothing but a weekly phone vote on the big issues of the day.

 

Oh wait, the Daily Mail's already doing that.

 

Exactly, we have too much democracy at present, to the extent that it's become meaningless to most people now and they neither vote for, nor care about, the government of the country. Sometimes the best thing to do is counter-intuitive and I think less democracy is what the UK needs right now, not more. Hopefully then people wouldn't take it for granted and would care enough about it to use it properly.

 

Just to get things straight, I'm not saying that we should have less elections or anything like that, but in the periods between elections the government of the day should just get on with it and live or die at the next one by their success, or otherwise. I'm sick of all this continual "consultation" with the public which permeates modern politics in this country and means that almost nothing actually gets done. It's not even like they consult with us properly, or do what we want them to. They just do what the media tells them we want them to without considering that the media has its own agenda, which may not coincide with what the people actually want or need. Not only that, but on the odd occasion when the people do feel really strongly about something, they'll more than likely totally ignore their views and do what they wanted to do all along anyway - Iraq for example - so what's the point? It's just a ruse to make people think they're being listened to and to allow our "leaders" to get away with doing nothing and not taking any important decisions and it just results in malaise.

 

It's within my living memory that opinion polls were only published around election time, now there's at least one a week and parties determine their policy by them on an ongoing basis. We basically live in a continual state of election build-up now, with all the parties obsessed by who's the most popular at that particular second rather than getting on with the job of governing the county, which surely should have been the point of getting elected in the first place!?! It's all about winning elections now, rather having the chance to put what you believe in into practice. Do politicians actually believe in anything any more? I don't think they do and that's due to too much "democracy", not too little.

 

I'd much prefer to have a lean, vibrant and healthy democracy than the flabby, overblown, mess we've got at the moment, especially as that's supposed to be the point of a first-past-the-post system. If we want consensual politics then let's do it properly and get a PR system in asap, because at the moment we've got the worst of both worlds.

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Indi, I will chip in.

 

Within the statism, Switzerland's model is more democratic then the rest.

 

Now I am not familiar with the exact procedures themselves so I will refrain from commenting on how this issue get to be voted in referendum.

 

I personally much prefer a horizontal-authority (anarchism) rather than a top-down authority (statism).

 

However within statism, I would like to see the authority belonging to the people as much as possible instead of the top few.

 

I get what you mean by having subjects decided by non-specialist. But minarets is not a technical subject anyway. It is cultural, religious and exactly the thing what the non-techinal non-specialist populace should decide on.

 

It is a much better democracy. And on a more serious note government is easier to be toppled in switzerland model as compared to say, the UK model.

 

And Switzerland is doing very well as a country !

 

The most boring and expensive country on earth. Fuck them.

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Erm indi, you know that MPs are elected to represent their constituents? I know what you mean about pandering to opinion polls, but politicians obviously have to take the mood and views of the public into account.

 

Yeah, I know that, but how do we know what we're actually voting for if they change their opinions with the wind? How can we make an informed decision on who to vote for if we don't know what they stand for? If they actually stand for anything, that is. We vote for them based upon what they claim they're going to do over the next few years if elected, or at least that's how it's supposed to work. It's no wonder no-one votes any more, what's the point!?! You'd be better off trying to influence what's on the front page of the Sun or the Mail, as that's what determines government policy nowadays. You're actual voters have little or no say whatsoever.

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If they're worried about 'islamic fundamentalism' why not combat it with laws against things like persecution of homosexuals and oppression of women? Why ban spires for fuck's sake? Oh, you'll ban Muslims from building minarets, but I bet if an islamic state starts a campaign of genocide you'll be first in line to look after their plundered gold you clock-fiddling cunts.

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Think how stupid your average person is.

 

They're more intelligent than half of the population. Fucking scary. I only just support letting the public decide who makes the decisions and that's going to be sorely tested when they vote in that wankstain Cameron.

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Think how stupid your average person is.

 

They're more intelligent than half of the population. f***ing scary. I only just support letting the public decide who makes the decisions and that's going to be sorely tested when they vote in that wankstain Cameron.

whislt there is a lot of talk at the moment about making voting easier ,ie online,postal etc, to get more peole voting there is an argument to be made that those with an interest thus proabably more informed are more likely to vote and will vote whatever. so, make people travel to vote, it's something that happens only once every four to five years usually so traveling say 5 miles to vote for those bothered shouldn't be too much and those that really don't give a toss won't bother. it woulod lead to hopefully a smaller but better informed electorate.

 

 

 

not 100% serious but an idea nonetheless.

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Making decision by voting is pointless. And they short it out by making pointless debate to decide what's right & wrong. That's the reason i never vote anything in my country.

 

It's not perfect, but it's the best solution available to humans. I would rather have democracy than dictatorship any day, no matter how flawed it can be.

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Erm indi, you know that MPs are elected to represent their constituents? I know what you mean about pandering to opinion polls, but politicians obviously have to take the mood and views of the public into account.

 

Yeah, I know that, but how do we know what we're actually voting for if they change their opinions with the wind? How can we make an informed decision on who to vote for if we don't know what they stand for? If they actually stand for anything, that is. We vote for them based upon what they claim they're going to do over the next few years if elected, or at least that's how it's supposed to work. It's no wonder no-one votes any more, what's the point!?! You'd be better off trying to influence what's on the front page of the Sun or the Mail, as that's what determines government policy nowadays. You're actual voters have little or no say whatsoever.

 

I agree with you on that, with the small aside that speaking to individual people and listening to opinions is slightly different to pandering to tabloid headlines.

 

And MPs should be elected on their manifestos, of course, and those principals should not change after an election.

 

The main problem is that people are concerned with getting and retaining power.

 

For example, in my opinion the principles of a political movement should rarely change, and if that happens to mean they are no longer in sync with the general public then fine, they lose office. The problem now is that nobody seems to have fundamental principles. And if they do, they can't let anyone find out!

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Making decision by voting is pointless. And they short it out by making pointless debate to decide what's right & wrong. That's the reason i never vote anything in my country.

 

It's not perfect, but it's the best solution available to humans. I would rather have democracy than dictatorship any day, no matter how flawed it can be.

 

democracy is good as long as the people morale also good... leadership also good if the morale of the leader was good. i think it more question of people morale these days.... not the technique of making the decision.

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