Saturday, December 27, 2014

Changing the German Voting Procedure?

Either on weekends or around will occasionally get a German political figure to toss out some radical idea that wouldn't normally be discussed in public.  This week....the general secretary of the SPD Party in Germany came out to discuss this idea of a longer voting episode.  Instead of one single day (always on a Sunday) for elections.....Yasmin Fahimi suggested several weeks of open-voting.  She also voiced the idea of different polling points.....saying you ought to be able to walk into a library or a train-station.....and cast a vote.

The driving slant on this?  Typically, for an average German don't get more than fifty percent of the adult public (over eighteen) to vote.

Reception to the idea of longer open-voting and different points?  Kinda negative by other political parties.  As they put it....the German voter is clever enough to grasp the one single day of voting, that it's always on an off-day for Germans, and that it's the same place in their neighborhood or town where it's been for fifty-odd years.

Being an American in German and watching the vote's pretty simple.  You are registered as you move into a town, city or village....with the address of your home.  You have no MUST register.

A card will be sent to your address prior to the election, and it will note the location and hours that the voting establishment are open.  Most towns and villages will open the voting station around 6 or 7 AM, on a Sunday.....and stay open until 6PM (or till the last person has voted in line).

Voting stations moving around in town?  Doesn't happen.  You can question a typical German and they will tell you their voting point has been at the same address for thirty-plus years.

The idea of putting the voting station at public points like train-stations or libraries, for a week or two?  It's hard to say if it'd make any difference with the German public.  There aren't any polls to say who votes compassionately and on a dedicated basis for thirty consecutive years.....or those who have never voted in a single election over thirty consecutive years.  I'd be interesting to know this part of the story for Germans.

What typically drives the occasional voter in Germany?  It'll be an election tied to economics, pension reform, or some idiot that you really dislike and vote against (like Schroeder from the SPD of a decade ago).  Most German elections simply aren't that thrilling or get people all enthusiastic.

The odds of this discussion over longer voting options and more possible stations to vote?  I'd take a guess that it might generate some forum chatter for a Sunday night political talk show....but the average German probably doesn't care and it wouldn't make much of a difference.

In fact, I'll even say this.  Right now....the average German election comes with the results of fifty percent of the public voting.  If you could raise this to seventy-five percent.....would it change the average statistics?  Would the SPD pick up half of the new voters?  Would the Greens pick up ten-percent of the new voters?  Would the AfD pick up the majority of the new voters?  On just don't know.  In some ways.....fixing or solving this.....might simply open up a bigger problem in German culture.

1 comment:

Markus said...

At least above 70% in federal elections, while election at state level really do lag in participation.

I think the question is, whether it is still a democracy when 50% of people vote and due tu 10% of votes not resulting in parliamental seats, only 22,5X% of all germans may have voted for their government .