Thursday, May 10, 2007
Elections in Scotland sound like Florida...
My wife and I returned from a week’s break in Madrid to find our country embroiled in electoral chaos following last week’s ballot for the new Scottish government.
In case any of the readers of The South Reporter are unfamiliar with the way our political set-up operates in this country, let me explain.
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, but has its own devolved government which sits in Edinburgh.
However, Scotland still has MPs which sit in the House of Commons in London and the London-based national UK government deals with major areas of responsibilites such as foreign relations and defence.
The Scottish Executive, as our devolved government is called, operates in similar fashion to a state legislature in the United States does, e.g. the Mississippi state government.
However, last Thursday saw over 100,000 spoiled ballot papers in the Scottish elections, much of which is blamed on the new voting system introduced for being too confusing.
That is a lot of people to be disenfranchised - including Ally and I as our postal votes did not arrive at our home in time before we set off on holiday, despite the fact we applied well ahead of the deadline.
International observers have also criticised the election mess, with some commentators comparing it to what happened in Florida during the 2000 presidential elections.
The bizarre thing is that this week we have Scottish political parties all refusing to enter into a coalition with the Scottish national party which had a majority of one seat.
Yet all these parties voted for proportional representation as the way for our new parliament to operate, and PR always means a coalition of some sort has to be formed.
But now they don’t want to go into a coalition? The whole thing is a farce and is making Scotland a laughing stock.
All the other main parties are implacably opposed to holding a referendum on whether Scotland should become independent - something that is a main plank of the nationalists in the SNP.
How they are going to work this out is anyone’s guess. They have 28 days to come up with a solution, or the entire election will have to be run again.
Mind you, the 100,000-plus Scots who didn’t get their votes registered for one reason or another - including my wife and I - would at least get our chance to have our say.
That is what democracy is all about, yet the election fiasco now threatens to paint Scotland more as a ‘banana republic’ if we are not careful.
What was it you Americans used to chant back in the old colonial days? ‘No taxation without representation’ wasn’t it?
Maybe that’s what people like Ally and I who didn’t get to vote should try!
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