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Local Government Apathy - An International Problem
Author: Al Arnold

Copyright 2006 Al Arnold

Local government apathy is not just a problem in the USA. It is an international problem. A Google of “local political apathy” proves that very quickly. The problem has also been with us for some time. In 1987 Mayor Ken Livingstone of London wrote a book, “If Voting Changed Anything, They'D Abolish It.”

Since 2004 something called The Power inquiry has been investigating the condition of democracy in Britain. This group hosted meetings and heard from a variety of interest groups over the past two years. This investigation attempted to answer the questions:

* How can democracy survive when we feel politicians don’t listen?

* How can politics be revived when fewer and fewer of us support political parties?

* How can voting be encouraged if millions see elections as a charade?

Their final report was recently published. Do some of their results sound familiar?

* The British public is not apathetic. There is now a great deal of research to show that very large numbers of citizens are engaged in community and charity work outside of politics. The area of decline is in formal politics ... elected representatives are held in very low esteem and widely distrusted.

* The level of alienation felt towards politicians, the main political parties and the key institutions of the political system is extremely high and widespread.

* The problem of disengagement from formal democracy is not unique to Britain. Nearly all the established democracies are suffering from similar problems.

* The main political parties are widely perceived to be too similar and lacking in principle.

* The electoral system is widely perceived as leading to unequal and wasted votes.

* Many people feel they lack information or knowledge about formal politics.

Complete information on The Power inquiry can be found at www.powerinquiry.org.

So, there are problems. What's new?

Are there any solutions which we can steal from this work? Among the recommended solutions we find:

1) The voting age should be reduced to age sixteen in order to catch their interest young. The youth need to be introduced to their rights and duties as citizens at the earliest opportunity.

2) Voters need to be registered automatically.

3) The political system needs to make sure you have a real say in who is to represent you. Every party needs to open up its procedures for candidate selection to non-party members.

4) Funding needs to be cleaned up.

5) People may still be deterred from voting if they feel that their vote does not make any difference, which in safe seats it doesn't. A responsive electoral system needs to be introduced.

Apathy. Does anyone care enough to do something about it?

Article Source: http://www.myarticlepub.com - Free Reprint Articles

Al Arnold is the Founder of the National Association of Local Government Activists. The association dedicated to fighting Local Government Apathy. WWW.LocalPolitics101.US He is also the author of Moving Mountains and Molehills Local Politics 101, a book that explains how you can effective in local politics.



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