Flawed process is affront to democracy

WRITING from the relatively unique perspective of someone who actually bothered to vote in the local council elections, the almost record low turnout should sound the clearest possible alarm call to government both at local and national level.

It appears that the voting public has been almost completely disheartened and disillusioned by the constant carping, stone throwing and point scoring by both politicians and political parties.

Equally, and perhaps more worryingly, it also calls into question the legitimacy of any results that emerge from the low turnout.

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The only people who did actually vote appear, mainly, to have been older people and the core members of the main political parties and any result that emerges from such a polarised demographic can hardly be said to be a fair reflection of the nation’s views.

Hopefully, in Scotland at least, we will see none of the ludicrous, hyperbolic claims about “the settled will of the Scottish people” similar to those trumpeted by Alex Salmond following the fiasco of the last, low-turnout general election.

Brian Allan

Keith Street

Kincardine-on-Forth

Clackmannanshire

I WONDER how many people do not understand the voting system used for the recent local elections.

This week I received through my letterbox a leaflet from the Edinburgh Green Party which stated: “Just 15 per cent of ‘1’ votes sees Nigel [Bagshaw] elected.” If you read Schedule 1 of the Scottish Local Government Elections Order 2011 you will see that the quota of votes required for election is calculated by taking the total number of eligible votes cast, dividing by the number of seats available plus one, and adding one. If, for example, in Inverleith ward the number of votes cast was 1,000, you would divide by five (four available seats plus one), which gives 200 and add one to give a quota of 201.

In Inverleith ward, the quota will always be fractionally over 20 per cent of valid votes cast, not the 15 per cent stated in the Green leaflet.

Although the effect of this mis-statement was in the Greens’ favour, since the lower threshold made a successful outcome seem more realistic, I am inclined to believe this was not deliberate, but due to the obscurity of the voting system being used.

If candidates and their active supporters do not understand the voting system, what hope have ordinary members of the electorate?

Martin Burnell

Inverleith

Edinburgh

WITH the main political parties having only small policy differences between them as they strive to have all the same answers to the same concerns facing the voters, it is not really surprising that only 30-40 per cent of voters bother to vote in the safe knowledge that it won’t make a lot of difference which party wins.

Unless we adopt a policy of compulsory voting, our precious democracy will continue to be determined by a minority of voters, an outcome which wholly undermines the winning parties bogus claims of having a “mandate to govern”.

Dennis Grattan

Mugiemoss Road

Bucksburn

Aberdeen

IF NOTHING else, this local election has shown that the STV [single transferable vote] system must be the worst ever devised by humans and those who thrust this on an unwilling Scottish electorate should be ashamed.

Vague, indecisive, boring, removing all direct constituency-representative links, it is an affront to democracy.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg

Edinburgh