The decreasing participation of citizens in political elections is alarming. One of the key questions is, whether this fact is just a symptom of the ongoing democratic crisis or partly even a cause.
Of course, people are disappointed because of all half-hearted compromises, the deadlock and the sluggish development in important issues. They may feel that either their vote does not make a difference or once elected politicians cannot make a difference. To this effect, many non-voters call their boycott a protest against a corrupt system of powerless institutions. But how could resignation be a protest? How would passing the choice generate a preferable outcome than choosing the least evil? How should the government know, whether non-voters are discontent about the possible choices or whether they are just indifferent?
It could simply ask for it. Let voting be a democratic duty by law and simultaneously add at least two more voting options to the ballot: First, give citizens the possibility to vote against all electable parties, if they do not feel sufficiently represented by them. Secondly, one should be able to confess that he or she is just too uninformed or disinterested to vote for an actual party.
Maybe there should be even more additional options and maybe the percentage voting for these options should have a direct institutional effect. However, for now it would already be an important measure to be paternalistic and force people to claim their democratic right to vote – because it is their democratic duty as well!
In the previous parts of this blog I have talked about two things: firstly, about how most advanced economies are heavily dependent on innovation for sustained growth and, secondly, I’ve presented some macroeconomic figures and anecdotal evidence regarding the importance of innovation in Europe. In case I was not explicit enough throughout this series: I don’t believe Europe is doing enough to be and become the dynamic and innovative economic zone we could be. What do I think needs to change?
I think public and private expenditure on R&D and higher education is important, but I also believe that how much good it does depends a lot on what we use this money for and that some of our problems are structural: There are two points I want to stress in particular:
Reforming our educational system
I believe that we need new concepts for education. Our education system plays a fundamental role in shaping the citizens that determine the (political) future of our nations and in forming the work force that ensures that our economies and societies remain dynamic and innovative and create the employment needed. However, this is the 21st century and yet, we are relying on a schooling system that largely stems from the industrialization era! We want people to generate innovation, to think out of the box and to tackle economic and social issues? We want them to learn, because they want to and not because we are legally forcing them to sit in school until they turn 15? Well, then maybe it is time we adapt the way we teach and also what we teach in our schools to modern life, families and children! (sounds radical rather than pragmatic, but sometimes incremental is just not enough)