Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Politics; Are Electorates Disillusioned or Disaffected?

Image taken from
Over the past week, we saw elections happen in some European countries including the United Kingdom, France, Greece and Italy. With all these comes the very pillars of elections; the reaction of the electorates.

The media is awash with electorates' disillusionment. In reality, electorates do not just feel let down but swindled. With the gap between rich and poor wider than the oceans, governments are blamed for the greed seen in the financial sector where remunerations and earnings are in millions. With this comes hatred and disconnection towards every earnings considered ridiculous, be it in the private sector, public service or for entrepreneurs too.

The above has led to swings in almost all elections since the recession began except in Germany where Markel held narrowly to government although largely on the back of Gordon Brown showing a grip and leadership on the European financial headache then. The same Gordon Brown was to suffer the swing as things got worse in Europe and the UK Conservatives built on the back of that.

However, a new trend was shown in recent presidential election in France. While elections turn out has been largely low over the same period owing to the disillusionment and disaffection, in France, a clear mark was made between disillusionment and disaffection. The former meant that the incumbent, Sarkozy was dumped, the lack of disaffection saw turnout surpassing 80%.

Clearly, 80% far outstrips the turnout in the most recent national and local elections in other European countries, including Germany (71% in 2009), the UK (66% in 2010, >30% in 2012) and Switzerland (47% in 2007). Even the local elections in the UK in the same week could barely scrape up above 30% turnout.

Perhaps, the lesson could be that either that the voice of the many have been heard and a clear result reached. Or the sentiments of disillusionment which tends to punish whoever is in government during any financial meltdown, while the whatever alternative is available is put to power.

While many analyst link electorates' decision to political leaning, history is clear that most people vote on sentiments especially during economic meltdown. The elections through out the credit crunch portrays this. Whereas in the UK, no clear mandate was given to any party in the general election in 2010, the then incumbent socialist party was removed from power. In France, a Conservative government is replaced with a socialist.

Obviously, the disillusionment is what determines the result but could be made worse by disaffection.

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