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General election 2006

I thought I knew what party would get my precious vote right up till election eve...then I logged on to the Internet for an 'independent advice', and got quite a surprise. After careful analysis of my political ideas and preferences, I did get a 47% score in favour of the party I had thought to support -- but I also 47% score in favour of another party that I hadn't considered at all. So I looked at the breakdown and found that the party-that-would-have-gotten-my-vote-if-I-hadn't-checked-and-compared-their-programme-to-that-of-other-parties-on-the-Internet and I had a fundamental difference of opinion on one issue: that of whether it would be permissable or expedient to waive some of our civil rights in the interest of greater security. 'Yes', said the party I had been considering until then; 'no' said I. And 'no' said the party I eventually voted for, too.

I looked a bit closer at all the other parties stand on this issue too, and was shocked to discover that a large majority are in agreement: they're all (and this includes the 3 largest parties in the land) quite willing to trade off our civil rights and liberties if it will help them push through ad hoc security measures to combat what they perceive as the present (islamic) terrorist threat. And I am vehemently opposed to this idea.

The party I voted for now has 2 seats in the House. They came out of nowhere and did very well for a new party, and I hope they'll achieve their primary objective of better legislation for the protection of animals -- even if I did vote for them dressed in my fur coat (but hey! it was cold outside).

There's another party that came out of nowhere and did very well for itself in the elections, but I'm far less pleased about their arrival on the political scene. Why did so many of my fellow countrymen give their vote to the right-wing xenophobic inappropriately named Freedom Party? What possessed them? What is this nationwide obsession with 'security' in recent years? I don't understand it. I live in this country, yet I've never felt under threat from terrorism despite having lived most of my life in a town where the IRA blew a hole in an embassy building once, and having had to go the long way round to get to a certain part of town because the area around the American embassy has been cordonned off for 5 or 6 years now (wish they'd bloody move to the outskirts so we could get our Voorhout back sooner rather than later).

And I'm not afraid of islamic fundamentalists. I have a firm belief that our own Western humanist culture is strong enough in itself to withstand the occasional attacks of these or any other ideological madmen, without giving up any of the liberties that define it.



( 5 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Nov. 23rd, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)
I saw an article about the phenomenal popularity of these who-should-you-vote-for sites today in teh International Herald Tribune. It's supposed to be completely unprecedented, and lots of the site owners are keen to see whether it represents a change in the way people relate to parties.
Nov. 24th, 2006 08:11 am (UTC)
Stemwijzer.nl, first and foremost of the Dutch who-should-you-vote-for sites, came into being a few elections ago...I think roundabout the time Pim Fortuyn was murdered. Or that could have been the time I first heard of it...Anyway, it's become quite normal practice for 'the floating electorate', i.e. people like me that can't make up their minds until the last minute, or just haven't got a strong attachment to any one political party, to consult the site prior to making their way to the polling station. It is independent, comprehensive, and it saves us the bother of having to read, study and compare every point of every programme of every party, of which we have quite a few: I believe there were just over 20 parties taking part in this year's election.

I don't know that it changes the way people relate to parties, though -- especially when they've already tied themselves to one. As for me, I know myself to be moderately left-wing; Stemwijzer helps me find the programme that best matches my own ideas about how our society ought to be organised.
Nov. 24th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
These who-should-you-vote for sites are definitely a help.
I mean who realistically reads the pamphlets of several parties or even just one?

I'd dare say most of us mostly decide on the basis of what the media relates to us and I don't even dare to think about people who gather all their information from the yellow press and their populist and simplistic illustration of 'everyday life'.

I also stumbled across one of these sites before Germany's last election and thought that it was great, because just like you, I also count myself to the group that makes up their minds at the very lat minute and looks for the party that overall matches best, as opposed to the group that simply sticks with one party without really re-considering their vote.

Your belief that our western culture will be strong enough in itself to withstand the erratic attacks from islamic extremists, I do share. Yeah, the western civilization hast been shaken up by the terrorist's acts, but I believe that although we might have lost our relatively complete sense of security, there has already been an adjustment to the state of being alert to the dangers of our time, without being ruled by fear in ourdaily lives.

Most of us and in our age group, have grown up without ever experiencing a war in our home country. Now we are confrontet with "terror" and an unknown amount of danger (something the soldiers of our countries have been facing abroad for a long time, no matter where), so this takes some time to accept the fact and adjust to it as much as possible.

Hence, I believe the shock many of us have felt when 9/11 or the London bombings happened, may be repeated should extremists succeed with their plans, but we have also become closer by this as Europeans. Well that's at least how I feel.

I too don't understand the "security obsession" mainly some politicians have fired up...but then polls have shown that Germans are much more afraid of losing their job than of the terrorist threat. I guess as long as nothing happens within the country or one of the bordering countries that is...
Nov. 24th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ooops...excuse my grammar & spelling. My new laptop and I have some typing issues I am afraid!
Nov. 25th, 2006 10:01 am (UTC)
but then polls have shown that Germans are much more afraid of losing their job than of the terrorist threat. I guess at long as nothing happens within the country or one of the bordering countries that is...

And that is how it should be. Really, we can't let ourselves be ruled by dread and the fear of a possible terrorist attack. I don't think it even worked like that in the 70s when the RAF was at its most active in Germany and surrounding countries...and where are they now, eh? No wonder people are more focused on the more immediate dangers of the here and now, like whether they'll still have a job and an income in a year, two years time...

I'm sure there will be more terrorist attacks like London and Madrid; some will be foiled and some will succeed and shake us up for a week or two, and then the vast majority of us will go back to the order of the day. There is nothing wrong with that; but I sometimes wonder if the media and the politicians aren't fanning the flames of righteous indignation for their own short-term gain (selling more copy, getting one over on their less extreme rivals).
( 5 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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