"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Truly Free Elections - What a Concept!

Election night victory party.
The birth of a new German political party   -   The Pirate Party.

Truly free elections with REAL CHOICES on the ballot and your vote actually matters . . . . what a concept!

Election Reform is Needed in America

Let's get right to it.  American elections SUCK. 

If an American is lucky he might live in one of the 20% of districts where there is some type of contest going on.  The other 80% of voters are screwed.  Their vote has no meaning.  But worse, because your vote has no meaning in 80% of the districts that means 80%+ of incumbents have no fear of the voters and do what they want.  That is why politicians are so arrogant.

For years polls have shown that from 30% to 40% of the voters refuse to call themselves either a Democrat or a Republican.  They put themselves as "independent" only because there are no other real ballot choices available to them.  The U.S. is the only democratic nation on earth with only two political parties in its legislatures.

Huge numbers of Americans on the right, middle and left feel totally unrepresented in the halls of power.  Many of us envy the elections in other nations where the voters have anywhere from four to ten real political parties to choose from.  Parties that can represent every possible faction or issue group in a society.

The state level elections this week in Germany are an example of the ballot freedom that we lack in the United States.

  • A brand new political party entered the legislature
  • Another political party lost every seat they held
  • And the new legislature will have five different political parties representing the many different groups in society.

The voting system is called proportional representation.  It allows people to feel that they are represented in government.  If a party gets 25% of the vote it gets 25% of the seats.  No games.  No BS.  No gerrymandering.  It is an election system used all over the world from Brazil to Scotland to Japan.

Freedom.  Real choices on election day.  What a concept.

The birth of a new political party

As Berlin election results came in on Sunday evening, sweaty members of the Pirate Party danced arm in arm beneath a disco ball at popular club in the city's Kreuzberg district. The smell of marijuana spread through the informal party, where guests made their own sandwiches and drank bottled beer.

"I can't believe it," said newly elected parliamentarian Christopher Lauer as he fell onto a sofa, sending a message of thanks out via his Twitter account for the 8.9 percent of voter support. "It is breathtaking, a surreal feeling, because there is nothing that compares to this," says Spiegel Online.

Standing before the television screen, the leader of the Pirate Party, Sebastian Nerz, called the historic moment "cool."

"It's the first time since the 1980s that a new political power has come onto the stage," he said.
 Free Democrat Party lead candidate
for Berlin, Christoph Meyer.
The FDP lost all their seats.

Indeed, the support for the party -- founded in 2006 on a civil liberties platform that focused on Internet freedoms -- was sensational. Not only will the Pirate Party enter a regional government for the first time, but its results far surpassed the five percent hurdle needed for parliamentary representation. The success was so unexpected that the party had only put 15 candidates on its list of nominations. Had their support been just a little higher, some of their seats would have remained empty because post-election nominations of candidates isn't allowed.

Beginners' Mistakes

It's an amateur mistake, but the young party is honest about their growing pains. "Of course we are amateurs," said lead candidate Andreas Baum. "It would be senseless to deny it." It doesn't seem to matter that his press representative doesn't know her mobile phone number and has no business cards yet. "We are visionary, but practical," he adds.

But it was precisely this approach that proved successful for the Pirate Party. Their humorous campaign posters, with slogans like "Privatize religion," were the work of party members, not an advertising company. All of the city-state's some 1,000 members were encouraged to take part.

The Pirate Party sees itself as the antipode to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

"We want more freedom," says Pavel Mayer, an IT businessman and the party's third parliamentary candidate. The Pirate Party believes that "people are intelligent and full of goodwill," he adds.

Their election success is due in part to the weaknesses of the other parties, he says. During the campaign, more established parties, including the once rebellious Greens, mocked the Pirate Party. Green candidate Renate Künast said the Greens would "resocialize" the Pirate Party to keep them from running in the next election. Center-left Social Democrat Klaus Wowereit, who won his third term as mayor in the election, warned Berliners against "voting out of pure protest" for the new party and criticized their "totally unclear profile" in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

Democracy in Action.
The state legislature of Berlin uses proportional representation resulting in five political parties holding power and representing the many different interest groups of society.

For more on this story

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