As mentioned, today we had elections in South Africa. Election day is always a public holiday so as to allow everyone an opportunity to vote. Naturally all the shops are also open so people can make the most of the public holiday and go shopping. Some stores even had election day specials. It’s good to know democracy and civic responsibility is so important to the businesses in South Africa (but seeing that more than half of them belong to Walmart by now…)
Anyway, the wife and I slept in (I returned from the coast with a bit of a cold, so I had to drag my carcass from bed in any case) before heading to the polls. Our voting station thankfully had a short queue so my blocked sinuses didn’t have to spend hours standing in the late autumn sun. Ten minutes after arriving we had both made our mark and had our thumbs marked in turn.
It is apparently illegal to take a photo of one’s ballot paper (or to take a selfie in the voting booth), but if you click here you’ll see a photo of the national ballot for today’s election with all twenty-nine parties that took part (and yes, we have a political party who calls themselves KISS. They’ve actually been around since 1994.) I have to confess I have never heard of more than half of them (I’ve known about KISS; have no idea what they stand for, though), and that in spite of doing quite a bit of reading over the past couple of months trying to figure out for whom to vote.
In the end, I voted for a party whose leader I trust. They’re definitely not going to win the election, not on national or provincial level, but hopefully I have helped them to get at least one seat in parliament.
Now the wait for the results starts. We all know who’s going to win, the only question is how far (and whether our president will manage to hang on until the end of his second term, but let’s not go into that…)
8 thoughts on “On being democratic”
So you’re starting the Michael Mouse party? I’d vote for you. OK, I know, different countries… 🙂
Thought I’d share a funny story. Years ago, I was asked by a friend to join a political party then being formed in NZ. Would I come along to a pub and meet one of the candidates who’d convince me why they were a good cause? I have no interest whatsoever in politics or being involved with any of it, especially this party which I figured was basically going to be nonsense. But I turned up as a favour to my friend, met the guy, and said to his face, ‘Ah, I hear you’re the Alan B’Stard of New Zealand politics’. It went downhill from there, quite rapidly.
The funny part? The party got formed anyway and this fellow ended up in the House.
Had to look up B’Stard, but yes, that doesn’t sound like a good way to start a conversation with a wannabe politician who, I assume, lacks a sense of humour.
I’m not interested in getting involved in party politics either, though I try to follow what’s going on in the local political arena. It ultimately impacts on my life, after all. I also believe it is vitally important to educate young people about politics (and also history, considering your post today) and teaching Animal Farm to high school seniors was an ideal opportunity to do just that. Not party politics, mind you, but teaching them to think critically about who they support and why.
As I mentioned in a previous post, over here most people still vote out of a sense of loyalty to a liberation movement that had ceased to exist twenty years ago when they became a government. Results are about halfway in now (based on voting districts) and the trend seems to be continuing in spite of all the violent protests against this very government in recent months.
I agree – it’s vital that we know WHY we have democracy, because then we appreciate it. The conduct of the politicians, alas, so often discredits it, but the system’s been fought for, literally. It’s worth fighting for, and if you look at the wider span of human history, it’s such an absolute privilege to have democracy. Those of us who live in such systems today really need to preserve it.
Of course that hasn’t stopped me taking the mick (as it were) out of those in it in New Zealand. The fellow I had on about his similarity to Rik Mayall’s sitcom character could take it – he was a friend of my friend and I knew he was pretty robust (he’s built a repute since for that very robustness, as a radio “personality”). I couldn’t resist it, especially given my slightly cynical and rather warped sense of humour… 🙂
Politicians are certainly fair game. That’s probably the best bit of democracy: that we are allowed to tell those who would presume to govern exactly what we think of them.
So you have a KISS party but you can’t vote for Mickey Mouse…
I know! Maybe I’ll start the Mickey Mouse party. As a citizen I have that right. But I’ll need a lot of money, both for Disney who’ll sue me for trademark infringement and for the R600 000 (US$6000, but equivalent to my salary for six years) deposit needed to take part in the elections.
Then I suppose that having Pinocchio on the ballot will have to suffice.
Are you referring to our president now? 😉
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