This general election has been a great display of democracy

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The election today has generated huge interest across the UK, and attracted coverage further afield, such is its closeness and importance.

The polls remain deadlocked between the Conservatives and Labour.

The outcome could have lasting ramifications both for the continued existence of the UK, and for the future of Europe.

If Britain was to quit the EU, which is entirely possible within two years, it would send shockwaves across a continent, which is already grappling with difficulties in its eurozone.

A Scottish exit from the UK (something the SNP will push for if they sweep the board there) would not only be a seismic event in Britain, it too would send shockwaves across Europe.

This column rehearsed the arguments yesterday on why we call for support of unionist candidates across the Province. But today we express the more general hope that people across Britain turn out in this general election in one of the oldest democracies in the world, sending MPs to the Mother of All Parliaments (this phrase was in fact coined in the 19th century as a reference to England, but has – aptly – latterly been applied to Westminster).

Politics is changing in the UK and other western democracies. Some of the big divides are now on moral and ethical issues rather than economic ones, as has been apparent in the campaign even in this Province, where the constitutional question is paramount. Meanwhile, party affiliations weaken.

There is pressure, too, on the first-past-the-post system for electing MPs. The British public overwhelmingly rejected reform in 2011, but the traditional method of voting when preferences are so varied and unevenly distributed among multiple parties is leading to problems (massive under or over representation of some parties).

The 2015 general election campaign has been a great display of democracy. Contrast it to countries such as China, that have no elections, or Zimbabwe, that have rigged ones.

We are lucky to have the vote. Don’t waste it today.