Saturday 10 December 2016

Editorial: Vote for whoever you like – but go out and vote

Published 23/05/2014 | 02:30

Do go out and vote.
Do go out and vote.

It is a sad reflection on us as a people that by the time the polling booths close at 10 o'clock tonight, up to half the nation may not have bothered to vote. This, quite frankly, is a deep insult to earlier generations who risked much – even life and limb – to ensure Irish people could have maximum control over our own affairs. But it is also something which inflicts a deep wound on the wider national community. We make no apology for stating very emphatically that every person entitled to vote today should get out and do so. Bad politicians are often effectively elected by the large numbers of people who do not bother to vote.

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Just a few short weeks ago we were reminded of the emotive scenes precisely 20 years ago when black South Africans queued for hours in the dark, the rain and the cold to vote in the first ever open democratic elections. The dignity and honesty of these newly enfranchised citizens touched hearts and minds across the globe. It caused many thinking people to go back to first principles and reflect again on the foundations of democracy.

Ironically, people who do not vote are sometimes the ones who complain loudest about the flaws in the ways in which we order our own affairs. They should reflect that if they cannot be bothered to go and participate in our democracy their complaints really smack of hypocrisy. The "couldn't-be-bothered brigade" should also reflect on a more simple reality. Politicians are often extremely pragmatic people and they regularly refer to a thing called the "marked register", which they are entitled to access.

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