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How much do you value your vote?

12:22 UK time, Sunday, 19 September 2010

International officials have hailed the bravery of Afghan voters who turned out in defiance of threats from the Taliban. Would you brave violence to cast your vote?

Turnout at the election for the Afghan lower house has been put at 40%. The Taliban had earlier warned voters to boycott the poll and "stick to jihad".

At least 17 people were killed on election day in about 445 violent incidents, including three members of Afghanistan's election commission.

There were also many reports of fraud that may raise questions about the results.

Does such a turnout amidst violence mean the country is moving forward? Will reports of fraud discredit the process? Are you in Afghanistan? If not, are you impressed by voters' determination?

Q&A Afghan parliamentary elections

Thank you for your comment. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    If I had to deal with the threat of violence or intimidation going to a polling station, I'd have so little confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome I certainly wouldn't be risking my life to go cast a vote that would count for nothing.

  • Comment number 2.

    A great many people in the UK, when they bother to vote at all, vote for candidates whose actual policies they entirely disagree with. I can only assume from this that what Britain really wants is a dictatorship.

  • Comment number 3.

    How much do you value your vote? Almost nothing. There is no democracy in Britain. The people have no say in how laws and bills are past. All that happens is that people vote for a party who then dictate their own will for their own goals on to the people, and the people follow. More often than not, the elected parties manifesto is thrown away as they enact their own agenda.

    In a true democracy, there would be referendums and propositions where the people decide and many (but not all) of the bills they wish to see become law. This would be at both local and national level.

  • Comment number 4.

    100 years or so ago in England, probably a lot.

    Now, not at all. They are by a large a bunch of self serving egomaniacs out for what they can get. I would ban "career politicians" in a heartbeat - if they have no outside interest then how on earth can they appreciate what is needed or what effect their policies have?

    For the last 20 years or so, the saying "you shouldn't vote for them - it only encourages them" holds true.

  • Comment number 5.

    In this country you go to cast your vote most of them do not count.Or governments are voted in by a system that means one MP needs ten times more than another to get a seat.Once in power what the PM decides mainly with his mates that nobody voted for what will be the agenda.Only recently we had an unelected PM and a deputy PM.Who was not even an MP.How can we go about the world boasting about democracy.We should be sorting our own clapped out system first.

  • Comment number 6.

    I value my vote but think that it is given out willy nilly to stupid people and the unemployed. A vote should only be given to tax payers/land owners that have passed an exam.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Would you brave violence to cast your vote?"

    Depends what I'm voting for.

    I'd run barefoot across broken glass, dodging bullets and shrapnel if the vote was about us getting out of the EU.

    General election?
    I'd want to vote, although my vote is meaningless as I live in a Conservative majority of more than 10,000.

    However if I was in Afghanistan, I would certainly vote, regardless of the consequences. If soldiers from another country are prepared to be killed or maimed so I have a vote, the least I could do is be courageous enough to do it.

    However the Afghan people don't seem to really give a monkeys about that, so neither should we let any more of our young men and women die to prop up this ungrateful and uncaring gehenna.

  • Comment number 8.

    I would make voting compulsory. Then people cannot moan about government.....it annoys me greatly that those who don't bother to use their vote whinge about politics.

  • Comment number 9.

    "How much do you value your vote?"

    I guess about £1,000 would buy mine, so long as it was a mainstream party.

  • Comment number 10.

    I value my vote and never take for granted my right to vote. The people in countries such as Afganistan, where casting their vote is frought with danger, deserve our respect. In this country the only wasted vote is one not cast.

  • Comment number 11.

    I vote but it is a matter of voting for the lesser of two evils and, for certain, the Republican party is evil.
    Peter D South Carolina

  • Comment number 12.

    I am impressed by people's willingness to vote for a corrupt government. It is sad that we, a democratic nation that has apparently had freedon for 100's of years.

    It is likely that it will take the Afghans at least 100 years to reach our level of freedon (I remember the Russians being given 50 years after their last revolution with Boris Yeltsin, and the Afghans are certainly further back than the Russians!).

    The funny thing is that we, a nation built on nepotism and corruption, are trying to establish a ..... corrupt nation founded on nepotism ... for the Afghans.

    Would I fight for freedom? I haven't done so yet, and given the state of our government, is a pretty poor state of affairs for me.

  • Comment number 13.

    "
    6. At 1:16pm on 19 Sep 2010, Graham wrote:

    I value my vote but think that it is given out willy nilly to stupid people and the unemployed. A vote should only be given to tax payers/land owners that have passed an exam.
    "

    Err, yes Sir, no Sir, may I clean your boots Sir? Please don't whip me again Sir.

  • Comment number 14.

    "
    7. At 1:21pm on 19 Sep 2010, David Horton wrote:
    "

    Good point.

  • Comment number 15.

    2. At 1:04pm on 19 Sep 2010, Cobbett_Rides_Again wrote: A great many people in the UK, when they bother to vote at all, vote for candidates whose actua policies they entirely disagree with. I can only assume from this that what Britain really wants is a dictatorship

    How do you work that one out? Lol

  • Comment number 16.

    We must value our right to vote, but sadly in this country the vote means very little when it is given not to someone who represents the voter but to someone who represents a party that is totally remote from the voter and ignores the wishes of the voter once in power. The agenda followed by the political parties is what the members of the party want , not what the voter wants, and the voter is never consulted on the greater issues, or, if they are, their views are ignored. Removing one party at an election means another party with equally unrepresentative views becomes the law maker. This futile lack of influence means more and more people fail to use their vote, knowing that however they use their vote ,the wishes of the majority will be disregarded for the narrow political wishes of the few.

  • Comment number 17.

    I value being able to vote, but ten years ago this December, the voting process itself was rendered meaningless in my country. Fortunately there has been one elected, rather than selected, leader since then, and that was nearly two years ago.

  • Comment number 18.

    The vote has absolutely no value whatsoever. If it did present the slightest danger of change we would not have it.

  • Comment number 19.

    yes, we are very lucky in the UK in that our lives are not threatened fir simply casting a vote. otoh, our votes here are worthless, so it's swings and roundabouts I suppose.

  • Comment number 20.

    In a two party state (UK) you would think everyones vote mattered. But when the two parties are NuLabour and BluLabour, who gives a sh**?

  • Comment number 21.

    I'd like to say that I would turn out to vote under the threat of viollence or even death, but I think the truth is I would stay home, in the basement, hiding under rags, quivering.
    Here's what I think about the Afghan voters: Because they came out in fair numbers and voted for whomever they voted, they must indeed want those particular representatives; therefore, the international community and Mr. Karzai can learn a great deal about the opinions of the people, even at 40% turn-out, and ought to bend-over backwards to accomodate these brave voters. (This includes the United States of America whom I suspect will carry right on, regardless of what the vote tells them.)
    I'm not sure that I believe the Taliban (as such) had earlier warned voters to boycott the poll and "stick to jihad" because I'm beginning to think the Afghans want the Taliban; the Taliban mean no drones, less bombs, more safety - some kind of normal life. These "threats" from the Taliban sound to me like something the United States might say - to intimidate voters, get a low turnout, and declare "fraud".
    Who exactly was responsible for:
    The 17 people were killed, the 445 violent incidents (including three members of Afghanistan's election commission). Who claimed responsibility?
    And what's with the reports of fraud before the votes are even counted?
    A turnout amidst violence means the country is tired, exhausted of warfare; the people want a Government and peace.
    As far as the fraud reports, I'm sure there are those who want to delegitimize the vote to suit their own purposes.

  • Comment number 22.

    Although I can sympathise with the commentator who spoke of not allowing the 'stupid' to vote, in the good old days only money and land ownership mattered and I doubt they, men, were all of the intelligensia. Without a vote, the only option might be a 'benevolent dictatorship' and as those are few and far between what is there? Unfortunately what is worthwhile in this world is rarely achieved without a sacrifice. I salute those in Afghanistan willing to try to persue some form of democracy for future generations. Give credit where it is due and remember our history isn't as pure as many might believe. Let's see headlines applauding the efforts, the courage and determination involved in this epic battle for freedom to vote!

  • Comment number 23.

    Not very much - since in the US casting your vote entails supporting the wacky, extremist and corrupt Democrat or the wacky, extremist and corrupt Republican. Coming soon - the wacky, extremist and corrupt Tea Party!

  • Comment number 24.

    Fraud and corruption within the voting system in this country has been prevalent, and a growing bubbling boil of an issue involving Labour rule for the past decade.

    Ballot box seals broken whilst in storage, voting cards missing, cctv trained on ballot boxes supposedly malfunctioning, inside cover-ups all over the shop, and our alleged democracy is still alive? Only a drivelling MP would have us believe so.

  • Comment number 25.

    In 4. At 1:08pm on 19 Sep 2010, steve butler wrote:

    Now, not at all. They are by a large a bunch of self serving egomaniacs out for what they can get. I would ban "career politicians" in a heartbeat - if they have no outside interest then how on earth can they appreciate what is needed or what effect their policies have?

    Probably not a bad idea to have term limits on politicians either.

  • Comment number 26.

    Not a lot. I live in the Shires and my local MP has a large majority, my vote counts for nothing.

  • Comment number 27.

    26. At 2:56pm on 19 Sep 2010, Stephen wrote:

    Not a lot. I live in the Shires and my local MP has a large majority, my vote counts for nothing.

    -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

    People have fought and died so that we in this country can vote, and this pathetic person states that his vote counts for nothing because his local MP has a large majority. Well, if most people in your local authority felt that way, then of course he has a large majority, because few people are voting for other MP's. Stop your snivelling and use that vote, other wise, don't say anything.

  • Comment number 28.

    The right to vote is worth dying for, otherwise our fathers and grandfathers who died in two world wars gave their lives for nothing.

  • Comment number 29.

    For the first time in my life, and it has been a long and fruitful one, I did not vote at the recent election. I had some sort of intuitive feeling that it would not turn out the way one would like. How right it turned out to be. I would prefer either a total Tory or a total Labour victory and the current wishy-washy, shall we or shan't we govern, is not good for our country. All they seem to be achieving is the overturning of everything the former government introduced, not for good reasons, but out of spite. Very childish. We need another general election and as soon as possible and next time, if I'm still around, I will cast my vote.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Although it is hard to see what ones vote does when you live in a totally one party dominated area, I would never not use my franchise - why? Someone said how brave the Afghani people were to use their vote in spite of the threats against them, and that is very true. Perhaps those same people could cast their minds back to not so very long ago when people died here to ensure I got a vote. In respect of them, and to clebrate the fact that at this time no-one will threaten me with a gun, with rape or a beating if I do go to vote, I will continue to do so whenever asked.

    You cannot complain vociferously about a system if you cannot be bothered to use the one thing you have to change it. If you live where one party dominates, as I do, you have to mobilise everyone to actually vote, otherwise the usual party will get in through apathy, they rarely get enough of a percentage of the total population to vote for them, only a higher percentage of those who actually get out and cast their votes. If you don't use it, lose it - maybe the time has come to use the enforceable system such as in Australia? I do very much hope not.

  • Comment number 32.

    27. At 3:21pm on 19 Sep 2010, Tony of Britain wrote:
    26. At 2:56pm on 19 Sep 2010, Stephen wrote:

    Not a lot. I live in the Shires and my local MP has a large majority, my vote counts for nothing.

    -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

    People have fought and died so that we in this country can vote, and this pathetic person states that his vote counts for nothing because his local MP has a large majority. Well, if most people in your local authority felt that way, then of course he has a large majority, because few people are voting for other MP's. Stop your snivelling and use that vote, other wise, don't say anything.
    -----------------------------------------

    Did I say that I did not vote, what I said was a statement of fact. Mine and millions of vote cast in the last election counted for nothing, they did not result in any representation in parliament, our views do not influence those who make decisions. Democracy is an imperfect process!

  • Comment number 33.

    Usually voter turnout in most democratic countries, is less that 50%. Or thereabouts. Which speaks to the apathy redolent in society.

    Personally. I always vote when allowed. Even if the outcome seems certain. It is important to show that there is an opposition or agreement with the candidates. For those who do not vote? You deserve the government you get. Though to be fair, it is hard to vote for people that go to the same schools, the same business groups, churches and have similar agendas.

    BTW, on Democracy. T. Jefferson is quoted as saying that, "Democracy is no more than mob rule, whereby 51% take away the rights of the other 49%".

  • Comment number 34.

    Bad politicians are sent to Westminster by good people who don't vote.

  • Comment number 35.

    In an environment of violence elections will not be free and fair. In such circumstances it's no use voting.So voting by braving the violence is not worth it. 40% turn out of voters does not give credibility to the elections.A minority government by minority voters can deliver no good, because it is not a representative government.Wide violence has robed the polls of dependability.Such turnout amid violence,in itself,does not mean that Afghanistan is moving forward. Reports of fraud will definitely discredit the election process. I am not impressed by voters' determination, because the so-called determination is influenced by the military.
    The fact of the matter is that democracy in Afghanistan is still a far cry.

  • Comment number 36.

    We all are seeing many signs of happening of wellbeing of Afghanistan in near future unless we do gross strategic mistakes in our approach. When a Country is poor and war torn, there bound to occur many disturbances during Election Time and also there shall always be heavy misuse of the Power of Money unless there is a sudden development of upsurge towards a particular Party for whatever reason. The situation prevailing yesterday at Afghanistan being no longer there, we should see overall improvement in the situation at the field.

    In Communism, once a Country becomes prey to it, none is ever get a release from it including that of the Head of the Institution as and when such result happens due to a deep rooted conspiracy. But in Democracy, there bound to be many divisions within us to attract voters towards one’s behalf but when we see the end of the differences after the Election is over, such Institution shine the best amongst us. Therefore, for Democratic set-up, we require enough of knowledge within us to forget the Election as soon as it is over and encourage development through whichever Party wins the Election. Hence we must earn enough of goodwill within ourselves to embrace Democracy against automatic falling of victim to communism where everybody is under arrest and none is free to express oneself.

    Unless such environment is available within us, any desire of us to hold Election when the time is not appropriate might harm us more than doing any good to us but Afghanistan is unlike Iraq to get a better result holding such Elections within it but it is yet to get a maturity as well as health to get an appropriate result being many opposite forces are still surrounding its goal to get an ultimate outcome from such attempts of us.


    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 37.

    I value my vote so highly that I refuse to give it to any of the rubbish politicians we have in this country.

  • Comment number 38.

    How long do you have to be a member of this forum before you are no longer regarded as "new" I've been posting for months but I still get this annoying response

  • Comment number 39.

    The path to freedom and democracy is often a tortuous one. The Afghan people have realized that they have to stand up to evil terrorists. The future of their children and of generations of Afghans to come depends on the united stand they take now. Let us hope that power does not corrupt. Free elections are the best defence against evil terrorists.

  • Comment number 40.

    I live in a constituency where my vote is immaterial. I know before the election begins who will win and hence my vote is worthless.
    If I were an afghan and knew it would make a difference, then I would vote.

  • Comment number 41.

    dizierhupipa, don't worry, you will always be new. The moderators can't understand English!

  • Comment number 42.

    Magi Thatcher says that bad politicians are sent to Westminster by good people who don't vote. The problem, Magi, is that good people cannot choose the candidates. All we get these days are party hacks thrust upon us from London. Bring back the Constituency MP! Then we might get better people, who are more accountable to their voters.

  • Comment number 43.

    I value my vote very much. As a French national, for the Presidential Elections I have to vote at the French Embassy in London, hence travel from the Home County were I live, queue for about 4 hours to cast my vote (London is the 7th French city in terms of inhabitants, with 250000 registered voters but only 16 booths)and then go home. It costs me a whole day and about £25 in train/underground fare to cast my vote.
    When I say that to my English chums, they think I am crazy...
    When Sarkozy won, I had to agree with them....but then I am blessed to live in a democracy...

  • Comment number 44.

    As distasteful as violence is, there is a kind of honesty about the protesters motives; they don't want the proposed candidates to be elected. One can pretty much guess what the outcome will be if there isn't an accord between the politicians and the people.
    Contrast this with the UK. We have a corrupt and unfair political system. We have candidates foisted upon us who most of us would not want to have as our representative. We usually vote for a party - whatever else they tell us - most of whose policies we don't agree with. And then, once the voting is over, we are disregarded and ignored. We are told that we gave these characters a mandate to do anything they like with us, our country and our money.
    So, to answer the original question; would I vote in such extreme circumstances as in Afghanistan? "Possibly" would be my answer because something MIGHT just come out of it which would benefit my family and I.
    As opposed to the last couple of elections here in the UK which I didn't bother to vote in. Why? because by doing so I give them credibility. They have set the system up so that they cannot lose. I would vote again if there was a "none of the above" choice, however.

  • Comment number 45.

    32. At 3:48pm on 19 Sep 2010, Stephen wrote:

    27. At 3:21pm on 19 Sep 2010, Tony of Britain wrote:
    26. At 2:56pm on 19 Sep 2010, Stephen wrote:

    Not a lot. I live in the Shires and my local MP has a large majority, my vote counts for nothing.

    -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

    People have fought and died so that we in this country can vote, and this pathetic person states that his vote counts for nothing because his local MP has a large majority. Well, if most people in your local authority felt that way, then of course he has a large majority, because few people are voting for other MP's. Stop your snivelling and use that vote, other wise, don't say anything.
    -----------------------------------------

    Did I say that I did not vote, what I said was a statement of fact. Mine and millions of vote cast in the last election counted for nothing, they did not result in any representation in parliament, our views do not influence those who make decisions. Democracy is an imperfect process!

    -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

    I apologise for assuming from your statement that you did not vote. However I disagree with you that votes are a waste. I do agree that our voting system is messed up and the party with the overall majority did not win outright and we have the current shared government. Although, Labour are out and that in itself is a great thing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Just this morning Obama attended church for the first time in two years the same day he addressed Black leaders that they need to get Blacks out to the Polls to protect his agenda.
    This blatant appeal to get people out to the polls based on race is un-American and I suppose more typical of the tribal mentality of the Middle East.
    This comes after an incident just this year where Obama's Attorney General a Black Man named Eric Holder ordered other Justice Dept officials to drop the criminal case against the New Black Panther Party for blocking a voting station to Whites in Philadelphia Penn. A Justice official resigned over this and testified he and others were ordered not to pursue voting rights cases against Black defendants.
    So yes Voting is very important in both Afghanistan and the USA.

  • Comment number 47.

    I value my vote and always will. Pity there's no one worth voting for anymore!

  • Comment number 48.

    In order for the Afghan elections to be meaningful, the Afghan people must be in a position to "think for themselves".

    At present, anyone that does so risks being considered "not Muslim enough" by the Taleban, their supporters and apologists. Thus placing themselves, family and friends at risk of incurring the wrath of the "Religion of Peace".

    The very concept of democracy is at variace with Islam. Democracy assumes that people have the right to make their own decisions and the laws under which they live. Essentially, to have "sovereignty" over there own lives.

    Islam and the Qur'an states that "all sovereignty belongs to Allah alone". People have no choice but to "submit".

    The Afghan Constitution already enshrines the supremaccy of the Qur'an and Sunnah, with which "no man made law shall conflict".

    In order to make progress, the Constitution must be amended to give supremacy to "man-made laws" over the current theocracy. This would give some measure of validity to people's votes.

    "Weaken Islam in order to strengthen democracy" could be an election slogan.

    Until the stultifying effect of Islam is either weakened or removed, democracy will get nowhere in Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 49.

    39. At 4:10pm on 19 Sep 2010, Pancha Chandra wrote:

    The path to freedom and democracy is often a tortuous one. The Afghan people have realized that they have to stand up to evil terrorists. The future of their children and of generations of Afghans to come depends on the united stand they take now. Let us hope that power does not corrupt. Free elections are the best defence against evil terrorists.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Afghan people have to stand up to the political ideology (with a "religious "veneer" that the "evil terrorists" use as their "inspiration" and "justification" for their actions.

    Rejecting this ideology, Islam, is the best defence against evil terrorists.

  • Comment number 50.

    42. At 4:16pm on 19 Sep 2010, dizierhupipa wrote:

    Magi Thatcher says that bad politicians are sent to Westminster by good people who don't vote. The problem, Magi, is that good people cannot choose the candidates. All we get these days are party hacks thrust upon us from London. Bring back the Constituency MP! Then we might get better people, who are more accountable to their voters.


    Why not join your local constituency party and try and change it.

    Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

  • Comment number 51.

    One poor man in Afghanistan said he had sold his vote because he needed the money and however he voted it would make no difference with politics as corrupt as it is. I could empathise with him
    I live in such a safe Tory seat that it wouldn't matter if I voted a thousand times it would make no difference to the outcome. We may have a less corrupt system than Afghanistan but only a few marginal seats make any difference. People in those areas have a disproportional ammount of power. In most so called democracies the rich and influential media bosses have so much power nowadays that the vast majority of voters are brainwashed and rarely use the real power they have to change things

  • Comment number 52.

    How much do you value your vote?

    Less and less every time I use it!

    Democracy in this country is a sham. How else do you explain the likes of Vince Cable getting into a position of power and spouting rubbish that 90% of the country disagrees with?

  • Comment number 53.

    I value my vote greatly however I can see why many people don't vote now. Our politicians don't behave themselves and they don't lead by example. Part of an MP's job is to be present in the House of Commons and to vote. Many of them "asbstain" often because they don't want to upset their political party. I think they should be fired if they abstain. If I didn't do part of my job then I would be fired. They choose to be an MP so they should make sure they vote so others will follow their lead.

    We have to change our political system to make it easier for us to fire MP's when they break rules, break promises or misbehave and we have to make them more accountable THROUGHOUT the years - not just at election time. Then I think more people would vote.

  • Comment number 54.

    I always, always vote. I do so because the right to vote is a precious one and I am aware of the hardships that were endured by people who struggled to win it for everyone.
    I am, however, finding it harder and harder to find someone to vote for. All the main Westminster parties are now fundamentally indistinguishable. They are all locked into the post-Thatcherite free-market consensus that brought us the biggest financial disaster since 1929, but cannot resile from it. They all suck up to big business - especially the financial sector and they are all "intensely comfortable" with the wealthiest in society becoming "stinking rich" - even when it's obvious that it's being paid for by the poorest among us.

    I salute the Afghans who had the courage to vote, and I pray that the government they elect will be worthy of their electorate

  • Comment number 55.

    15. At 1:43pm on 19 Sep 2010, krokodil wrote:
    2. At 1:04pm on 19 Sep 2010, Cobbett_Rides_Again wrote: A great many people in the UK, when they bother to vote at all, vote for candidates whose actua policies they entirely disagree with. I can only assume from this that what Britain really wants is a dictatorship
    How do you work that one out? Lol

    -----------------------------------------------------

    There are indeed some people who despite agreeing with a parties policy will some how try and warp the truth so they can oppose the party.

    If we had proportional representation then peoples votes would be worth more and the decisions taken by the government would represent voters wishes. For example both Labour and the LibDems are pro EU parties and between them they got well over 50% of the vote, yet the Anti-Europe Conservative party hold most of the power. While people often come here claiming that the majority of people in the UK want out of Europe, the facts are very different. Both Labour and Conservative parties are very much in favour of new nuclear power stations and they represent over 60% of the voters.

  • Comment number 56.

    Voting is constructive. I vote for the carpet bombing of the Mid-east using tactical Nuclear Weapons.

  • Comment number 57.

    Earlier Magi Tatcher wrote,

    "Why not join your local constituency party and try and change it.

    Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

    I would like to agree with you, Magi, but the party heirarchies do not have a good track record when it comes to listening to the wishes of local party activists. There is the famous case of David Cameron's reaction to the so-called "Turnip Taliban" in Norfolk and the Labour party's dismissal of complaints from a South Wales constituency about there being no local candidate on the shortlist. All the parties want is your membership fees. They have very little interest in your opinion.

  • Comment number 58.

    Do I think my vote counts? Not a bit of it, no more than any other person's does, i.e. not at all. That said, everyone at home here votes at every single election, by mail (because none of us trusts the infernal machines which can be manipulated to negate votes - and frequently are, I've no doubt) and we maintain hard copies - just in case there is ever a come back, we are ready for them.

    Shame to feel this way in one of the world's leading democracies, isn't it?? (Some people, of course, refuse to acknowledge that the US *is* actually a democracy - they refer to it as a 'republic')

    As for Afghanistan - we are attempting to superimpose a method of governance which doesn't even work here in the west, leave alone in a country where there is absolutely NO history or even concept of one man (and definitely not one woman) one vote.

    However, as WS Churchill once said - Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest. Is the quality of leadership which counts, and that quality is increasingly poor everywhere one looks.

  • Comment number 59.

    I value my vote. But when I vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out in my constituency and I get Tories anyway I wonder what the point is.

  • Comment number 60.

    Voting should be made compulsory (i.e. a punishable offence) for all those on the Electoral Register. This is especially important given our 'first past the post' electoral system. For generations now, poor electoral turnout has brought into power (seriously) minority administrations, who then, to make matters worse, govern as if they had a popular mandate! The Nu-Labour governments had huge majorities in the Commons based on only a minority share of the total popular vote. This most certainly is NOT democracy, especially when issues of war and peace are involved. The problem always has been with our electoral system that usually the majority of votes cast are wasted. Recognising this, the turnout is poor in all but the marginals. So, compulsory voting and a PR voting system are essential if democracy is to be restored to this country.

  • Comment number 61.

    30: Kuradi Vitukari expressed the opinion that 'our' troops are *drying* for Afghanistan. This, Kuradi, begs the question of just whom our troops are *washing* for', doesn't it??

  • Comment number 62.

    Neglecting to Vote for any reason is a Major DISRESPECT to All Military Personnel - Past, Present and Future, and should carry a penalty.

    Those who don't vote have Discarded all Right to Complain as far as I'm concerned.

    Exercising your Democratic Franchise is the Difference between CITIZEN and Civilian.

  • Comment number 63.

    I do get tired of the apathy and "it's somebody else's fault"

    I came 70 years ago from a EU country that refused my race/religion the freedom to vote - So I've taken the UK open democracy with heartfelt thankfulness.

    I am a paid up member of the party I support - I am able to help choose my parliamentary candidate BEFORE elections - as well as the Leader of the Party usually and other people. I then help in the election to promote the candidate of my choice by calling at houses or phoning in the hopes of getting more voters.

    The vast majority seem completely apathetic - yet moan anyway - The only way to make a difference is TO VOTE - the vote is always analysed AFTER the election - and the TRENDS noted.

    Like No 7 I would go through hell and high water if I COULD vote to leave the EU. But I'm not apathetic about voting - every little helps.

    That's why I support the Afghanistan voters.

  • Comment number 64.

    57. At 6:56pm on 19 Sep 2010, dizierhupipa wrote:

    Earlier Magi Tatcher wrote,

    "Why not join your local constituency party and try and change it.

    Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

    I would like to agree with you, Magi, but the party heirarchies do not have a good track record when it comes to listening to the wishes of local party activists. There is the famous case of David Cameron's reaction to the so-called "Turnip Taliban" in Norfolk and the Labour party's dismissal of complaints from a South Wales constituency about there being no local candidate on the shortlist. All the parties want is your membership fees. They have very little interest in your opinion.

    = = = = = =
    But that is EXACTLY why you should join the local constituency party to change things - There are many would be policies that HAVE been changed by action within the party BEFORE they even make the light of day.

  • Comment number 65.

    Electorates are guilty of stupid errors. Voters of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania twice selected Ed Rendell. The state's business revenue fell dramatically. Rendell admitted that he verbally, sexually, and physically abuses his wife Marjorie. He insists on sky-rocketing state budgets and promoting massive salary increases to state officials. His Democratic Majority Whip was convicted on political corruption charges and Speaker of the House stands indicted.

  • Comment number 66.

    "International officials have hailed the bravery of Afghan voters who turned out in defiance of threats from the Taliban."

    Of course they would hail the bravery of Afghan voters, wouldn't they?
    They are not the ones to die.

    Just because someone says that I am brave to participate in a fraudulent election to install a puppet government of the west does not make me brave. It makes me stupid.

  • Comment number 67.

    In the USA, the Democratic Party holds the majority in both houses. The party also holds the Presidency. Yet nothing gets done.

    Democracies and governments don't rule. Money does.

  • Comment number 68.

    It is heartwarming indeed that so many of us want a radical change to the FPTP racket that is our current electoral system.
    It also shows just how little the Westminster Club thinks of us, the citizens of the UK. Cameron called us "stupid" to want PR. The nu-labour party has blithely ignored their promises to reform any of the 2 Houses. The lib-dems also seem to have forgotten one of their pivotal messages.
    So, how CAN we change the system? We can't even take to the streets - they won't allow us.

  • Comment number 69.

    My vote has no value what so ever. There are 3 partys in the UK and none of them listen to the will of the electorate. The system we have ensures that there will never be any real change. The same old partys manipulated by the same people pulling the strings from the shadows.
    The ordinary voters have only 3 very bad choices. Three political partys with there own agendas. Just look at the mess we are in now. No party won the election but we are stuck with the CONDEMS. Nothing will ever change westminster will continue to be occupied by people and partys who are so isolated from reality that they have no idea of the struggle ordinary people in this country face every day.

  • Comment number 70.

    My local mp has such a huge majority my vote for or against him means very little.

  • Comment number 71.

    68. At 8:04pm on 19 Sep 2010, UKcerberus wrote:

    The nu-labour party has blithely ignored their promises to reform any of the 2 Houses. The lib-dems also seem to have forgotten one of their pivotal messages.

    = = = = ==

    Sorry wrong -

    In 1999, the Labour Government completed a deal with the Lords to remove most of the hereditary Peers and passed the House of Lords Act 1999 leaving amongst the majority of appointed Peers a rump of 92 Hereditary Peers until the second phase of reform was complete.

    This was a DIRECT result of the population's pressure to ban hunting with dogs as cruel.

  • Comment number 72.

    64. At 7:43pm on 19 Sep 2010, RichardGrey wrote:
    you should join the local constituency party to change things -


    I don't know about all parties but in our local Tory party we were not happy with the aproved short list of candidates foisted on us. We were ignored when we objected. Serious revelations about the final candidate came to light but we were told by Central Office that we could do nothing about it. As we are a very safe seat the election was a forgone conclusion. Joining the party changes nothing, you are powerless against the opinion of HQ, the result is we now have a MP with a very dubious background

  • Comment number 73.

    Well, even if our votes are wasted, at least the EU can provide some sort of check on the excesses of the banks and hedge funds governing the tory tea party.

  • Comment number 74.

    72. At 8:25pm on 19 Sep 2010, Lucy Clake wrote:

    64. At 7:43pm on 19 Sep 2010, RichardGrey wrote:
    you should join the local constituency party to change things -


    I don't know about all parties but in our local Tory party we were not happy with the aproved short list of candidates foisted on us. We were ignored when we objected. Serious revelations about the final candidate came to light but we were told by Central Office that we could do nothing about it. As we are a very safe seat the election was a forgone conclusion. Joining the party changes nothing, you are powerless against the opinion of HQ, the result is we now have a MP with a very dubious background

    = = = = == = =

    Well I can only say I LEFT the conservative constituency party when Thatcher destroyed the only properly funded Local Educational Authority the ILEA - I wrote to her without getting a reply -

    That's when I joined the Labour party - everything I've wanted changed - except immigration policy - has been changed - like the investment in schools and the NHS - reversing the devastation caused by the Previous Tory party - and sadly they are trying to bin it again.

    Join the Labour party! :-)

  • Comment number 75.

    Isn't getting a black and/or blue finger always painful?

    At least they used ink in Afghanistan instead of incredibly thick pencils. I understand sales of strong detergents have shown a marked increase in Kabul.

  • Comment number 76.

    I value my vote so much that for the last 30-odd years there hasn't been a single person worth giving it to.

    As for the ordinary Afghan voter, they are showing remarkable courage, and a clear opposition to the Taliban's "version" of Islam. I wish them good luck, whatever the system they eventually put in place.

  • Comment number 77.

    Unlike in Nigeria my country, wherever vote really counts, one has got to give it high value.

  • Comment number 78.

    For as much as a vote or even my lifetimes worth, it is like I being scattered upon The Potters Field.

  • Comment number 79.

    If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal. Here in America, every politician is for free trade, shipping jobs overseas, degrading homosexuals, boosting health insurance profits while people can't afford medications, and giving bailout money to the rich while the poor fall further into debt. We need term limits on every office (I'd be fine with one term and you're done for every political office in the nation). We need lower and middle class representation. We need to hear the issues from the mouths of the people who are suffering as opposed to people like Beck, Palin, and McCain. Until that happens, my vote means nothing.

  • Comment number 80.

    "International officials have hailed the bravery of Afghan voters who turned out in defiance of threats from the Taliban. Would you brave violence to cast your vote?"

    Why not, it's what black South African's had to do for years until they were finally listened to.

  • Comment number 81.

    Voting should be compulsory as it is in Australia. However I live in a marginal lib dem/conservative constituency and I have voted for both of these depending on their manifesto and am happy with either so the coalition is utopia for me. Any labour voter who lives in my area may not be quite so keen and people will only vote if they are either made to do so or if they feel it might make a difference. PR would probably be the only way it would be completely fair but then we would probably have hung parliaments all the time and the BNP may actually get a seat!!

  • Comment number 82.

    Voting is only a small part of the 'democratic' process!

    Whether voters hear both sides of the argument or ideological divide where serious choices are presented is what democracy is really all about.

    One only has to witness here in the UK this impending farce of a Labour leadership election, where all the key candidates are right-wing New Labour cronies to deliberately scupper a genuine left wing challenge, to realise there's little democracy here, yet alone in Afghanistan!

  • Comment number 83.

    I would value my vote more if there was a difference between the parties.

    Frankly, whichever way anyone votes makes no difference at all - the result is always the same, only the faces implementing the policies change.

    Politics is, sadly, just a polulartity contest.

  • Comment number 84.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 85.

    I value my vote very much. Voting is a lottery at the best of times. Sure, it's great to be able to vote. But today, it's more of a vote in a popularity contest than a political one. Look at the US. Obama was popular because Bush was so awful. But the voters did not bother to look into Obama's flawed background or his extreme ideology. So two thirds of people that "voted" for him will not do so in future. In Afghanistan, mob rule is the law of the land. The electorate are brave but naive to think that an election can rid that poor country of the 12th century butchers who are lurking in the shadows. Butchers that the West supported when it suited them to do so. As you sow, so shall you reap. What a lousy harvest !

  • Comment number 86.

    72. At 8:25pm on 19 Sep 2010, Lucy Clake wrote:

    64. At 7:43pm on 19 Sep 2010, RichardGrey wrote:
    you should join the local constituency party to change things -


    I don't know about all parties but in our local Tory party we were not happy with the aproved short list of candidates foisted on us. We were ignored when we objected. Serious revelations about the final candidate came to light but we were told by Central Office that we could do nothing about it. As we are a very safe seat the election was a forgone conclusion. Joining the party changes nothing, you are powerless against the opinion of HQ, the result is we now have a MP with a very dubious background

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    I would challenge anybody here to click on your name Lucy and read the previous comments you have posted on HYS. Having read them I would ask the question do they believe that you are a member of the local Tory party as you intimate in this post.

  • Comment number 87.

    The current Afghanistan election: badly tarnished, yes; a good start, also yes.
    Democracy is not something that can be introduced, or imposed, overnight or even over a decade, but it will ultimately win.
    Certainly many, if not most, people doubt this election is worthwhile because of the fraud involved, but it is a significant inroad nevertheless.
    People tend to forget how long it took for democracy and legitimate elections to take hold in the West, including Britain, Canada and the United States. Generally speaking it has been less than a century since women, Blacks, Asians, certain religious groups, and people who did not own land or property were finally allowed to vote. Until then only landowners and select groups were allowed to vote, often fraudulently, with voters being bribed with cash, booze and other goodies at the ballot box to vote for certain candidates — which they did.
    It took time for democracy to take hold. Give it a chance in Afghanistan, Iran and other countries where it is new and people have no history of being able to freely voice their desires through a ballot box. It will eventually work and work very well.

  • Comment number 88.

    Until we have voting reform, sadly most peoples' vote in this country is valueless. It's only in marginals where it makes a difference.
    We are not a two-party electorate, so fptp is outdated.

  • Comment number 89.

    Whats the point in voting?

    Parties do as they wish when in power and we are powerless to do anything about it.

    Take the current government soon as they got in power they set about extending their term from 3 years to 5 and we get no say what so ever,is this democracy?

    We don't have democracy we have a capitalist bureaucracy.Our country is controlled by banks and big business money talks if you don't have any you have no say and if you think otherwise you need to wake up all the current cuts and "reccession" were caused by greedy money grabbing bankers and look whois paying for it not them thats for sure this is our democracy punish the masses who have no say keep the money men sweet.

    Want to buy my vote? its yours for 20 quid cause it worthless.

  • Comment number 90.

    Yeah it’s really important to vote! Every few years go and put a cross on a bit of paper and put it in a ballot box, and that’s as far as it goes, really important that, I feel like I’m part of a big society. In the meantime the supposedly elected government does what ever the hell it likes, and there is nothing democratically anyone can do because it isn’t a democracy! Lets face it voting is a gimmick, between elections the great majority do absolutely nothing except pay taxes towards keeping the cogs turning, have zero input in terms of politics, decisions, community, do a lot of moaning, blame everyone else and then go and vote again. It really makes no difference which vote you cast because the ideologies are the same, yawn.
    The electoral system is a farce; there is no point to it. If on the other hand I were able to vote for many other things, have responsibility for my part, be actively involved in decision making on a grass roots level, local level, then I would risk life and limb to keep my freedom. As it is, I have zero interest in voting for shams, charlatans, fascists, communists, cults and gatekeepers who all just simply want to dictate.
    The there are those on this forum who would have me imprisoned, who believe because it’s a ballot box it means democracy, (Afghanistan) and that somehow it’s connected with people dying in wars, weird.

  • Comment number 91.

    Those who voted should be commended for their brave stance to make sure that evil forces do not rule Afghanistan. Many polling agents died at the hands of the evil Taliban, only the force of American military can punish these religious zealots who want power with the help of guns and not votes.
    Congratulations to everyone who voted, this is the best way to tell the Taliban to hide in those holes they live-in.

  • Comment number 92.

    After a hard fight for the working class I value the chance to express my opinion even if it is in a small way.

    Roll on the next General Election as I think it will be the best laugh at the Tory and Liberal Democrat's expense we have had in years and will restore the public's faith in democracy.

  • Comment number 93.

    #86 Rupert Smyth

    wrote: "I would challenge anybody here to click on your name Lucy and read the previous comments you have posted on HYS. Having read them I would ask the question do they believe that you are a member of the local Tory party as you intimate in this post."

    It is a distasteful attempt at discrediting an accurate comment, Mr Smyth. As someone who has spent time in constuency parties of all colours I can confirm the generic veracity of Lucy's comment. It is simply not possible to influence candidature, policy, or conscience as a member of a party unless you hold significant office in the hierarchy or are putting up large sums of money.

    Would you now like to attempt to discredit me?

  • Comment number 94.

    Our votes dont mean anything anymore.

    They are a waste of paper.

    You're vote is a joke.

    Did anyone vote for these major cuts we are going to have.

    Yes politicians promise you the world and say they will do this that or the other to win your vote and then they dont do it.
    Might as well be Toilet paper!

  • Comment number 95.

    If you do not vote the I don't want to hear or read your comments about leadership!

  • Comment number 96.

    I always vote. But, I have had my doubts, especially after the 2000 & 2004 presidential elections, that my vote is actually counted. Electronic voting machines are an invitation to fraud.

  • Comment number 97.

    To me voting is not necessarly about what we want or who we want - it is more about what we DON't want.

    Afghan voting may be fraudulent and not at the level of Western countries - but is a certain sign that Afghans say: WE DONT WANT TALIBAN!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    Since labour has been Tory for the past thirteen years, Tory is still Tory and the lib dems have defected en masse to the Tories from the choice I get with my vote I value it somewhere between 10 and 20p.

  • Comment number 99.

    #4 steve butler wrote:
    "100 years or so ago in England, probably a lot.

    Now, not at all. They are by a large a bunch of self serving egomaniacs out for what they can get. I would ban "career politicians" in a heartbeat - if they have no outside interest then how on earth can they appreciate what is needed or what effect their policies have?

    For the last 20 years or so, the saying "you shouldn't vote for them - it only encourages them" holds true."

    Are you sure things were so much better 100 years ago? Women didn't have the vote at all then, and men had to be householders to qualify. It was not until 1928 that all property restrictions were removed and women's suffrage was on an equal footing with men's.

    I take your point about career politicians, but there is also a common argument against those who do have outside interests. They may spend too much time on those other interests, or be unduly influenced by them so that they are not representing the electorate fairly.

  • Comment number 100.

    Churchill observed that "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter," and, "...democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried".

    Having lived in countries democratic and not, rich, poor, at all levels on the corruption scale, under unshakeable majorities with which I did not agree, and coalitions of all stripes, over what is getting to be a long life, I cast my vote when given the opportunity. True, my country is not perfect, nor will it be: where humans are, ideals always run up against implacable reality.

    But I a citizen of a relatively well-off, relatively democratic nation that, by and large, acknowledges the rule of law, and gives me the right of public dissent without the penalty of imprisonment or death. I have this good fortune because my grandparents and parents fought for it, not abroad, but in their own nation, against incredible odds and at great cost.

    To those who say, "my vote is worth nothing because I am in a particular system and politicians lie anyway," I would suggest learning something of the history of the franchise. Your vote is a gift from generations that fought hard against odds to attain it. The system they faced used every weapon at its disposal, including propaganda, deportation, violence, murder, you name it, to suppress them. They stood up to it all for you, their descendants, Churchill's average voters.

    Instead of sitting at your computer complaining, get out of the house and do something. Don't like the party in power? Campaign for the one you do like. Don't like any of the existing parties? Get together with those that agree with you and found one you do like. Don't like the voting system? Work to change it. Debate, argue, donate, march, demonstrate. Stand up and make your voice heard.

    Don't tell me that it won't work, nothing changes, your voice does not matter, no one is listening. If that were true, you'd still be tugging your forelock to the local landowner.

 

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