Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'No Vote' or 'None of the Above'?

Hi, There is not too much of a difference between "No vote" and "None of the above". The former is usually a short form for the latter. The no vote does not mean not going to vote, or boycotting the vote. I am opposed to this idea, unless proven otherwise.

  1. This is an elitist idea. People who can't get elected in the democratic way, are seeking a legal response to a political issue.
  2. This is also a futile attempt to depoliticise democratic politics and delegitimise political parties. Democracy cannot survive without electoral politics.
  3. If we dont like the candidates in our constituency, then we should either put ourselves as candidates, or join a party and persuade the party to put up better candidates, or form a political party and try and persuade the voter by putting up better candidates. Just because we may not be in a positition to undertake any of these options, does not mean the existing democratic process should be scrapped.
  4. This is not a practical idea. In the best case situation, if the No Vote, wins, what political alternative will it create, except prolong the political uncertainty. In the worst case, very few voters will exercise this choice.
  5. In Bangladesh, in the parliamentary election held on Dec 29, "None of the Above", was an option on each ballot. While the election saw a national turn out of nearly 85%, far less than 1% votes were cast for the "No" option.
  6. A vast Majority of people who vote, need an elected representative for various functional reasons, related to their daily struggle for survival. So when poor voters out number the rest, the 'no' option is not a practical option for the voters. This is exactly what happened in Bangladesh, where poor voters chose to ignore the "No vote".
  7. All of us would like to contribute to reforming and strengthening our democratic institutions. But for this initiative to have any chance of garnering popular support, a positive and practical alternative needs to be proposed. The "No vote" is an empty and meaningless gesture, and so will not find favour among voters.
  8. Democracy is not primarily about majority rule. That would be a snapshot. And a snapshot can easily be discarded, or get faded and forgotten. Democracy is a process which allows every one to renew and remake that picture of their dream. This means, much more than majority rule, democracy is about protecting the minority opinion of today, so that it may have an opportunity to peacefully persuade others and aspire to become the majority view tomorrow.
  9. Lastly, the option "none of the above" already exists, since we thankfully haven't made voting compulsory. Those who legitimately choose not to vote, are in effect not voicing support for any of those on the ballot. Having that option on the ballot would not only add nothing to the democratic process, it would also imply that someone else, the political parties or the candidates, need to clean up their act, while we can sit on the sidelines. That would not be a good omen for democracy. Democracy can only thrive when the demos participates actively as citizens. Inner party democracy, financial transparency, etc., will come when we the people not only demand it from others, but participate in the political process, and make these happen.

Barun Mitra

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous09:53


    When the situation in the country has reached that stage that , every party is trying to shake hands with every party, as there is no agenda, manifesto or ideology of any party except one that, some how or the other they have to capture power, rule the public and not serve, and serve only their ownselves, when there is no involvement/concern of any kind on their part for the problems of common man---well then this is the time for the common man to rise to the occasion and teach them all a lesson—by using his right to VOTE FOR NONE—not only in these parliamentary elections, but for all times to come—till such time that the parties and the individuals fighting elections mend their ways totally in the interest of the public at large and at all top governing position, the best people of the country are chosen. To hell with this “particracy” in the disguise of democracy which is for the party , by the party, of the party. This is “Boycot Movement ” taught to us by Gandhiji, treating them as equivalent to British Rulers. It will take years to make this movement successful but it has to start to-day.

    Here is a poem on this -------


    Bani hain kitni partiyan aur bane hain kitne neta
    Phir bhi har chunav main dikhte lagbhag vahi purane neta

    Kaun Banega neta aur kaun banegi party
    Mujhse aakar puchhna hai nahi jarooree

    Phir bhi ye sab kahalate mere hi pratinidhi
    Aur bade maje se pa jate hain ticket-chunav ki nidhi

    Chunav-ticket jo bhagya mera aur desh ka likhte
    Kya ve bhi beche aur kharide jaate

    Bhai bhatije rishtedar khule hue hain chunavi dwar
    Aur achhe sache karmath log baithe rahate man mar

    Chunav ticket pa lene ke baad inke chehre dikhne lagte
    Aur chunav jeetne ke baad ye sab mast ho jate

    Mujhe bhulne main bas kuchh hi din lagaate
    Aur meri mushkilon ke naam par khoob khelte khilate

    Chunav aayog ne ki itni sakhti phir bhi dikhti usi naam ki takhti
    Aur turra ye ki har galti par kasti mere naam ki phabti

    Baar baar karne par galti ab main pachhta raha hoon
    Nahin jaoonga vote dene is baar khule aam batla raha hoon

    Chunavi systems badalne ka shayad yahi tariqa hoga
    Gandhi ke batlaye asahyog andolan jaisa hi to hoga

    Jo ho raha hai aaj meri aatma kah rahi hai mujhe
    Vote agar maine de diya to leni hogi iski bhagidari bhi tujhe

    Tabhi jaoonga aage se main chunav me dene vote
    Jab chunav maidaan me dekhoonga achhe sache tyagi aur karmath log

    Jo na hansenge mujh par aur na samjhenge mujhko naadaan
    Khud par le sab jummedaari meri karenge mushkilen aasaan

    Kabhi to vo din bhi aayega jab honge mere pratinidhi
    Subhash, bhagat, gandhi aur lalbahadur jaise tyagi

    From-- shivlal mathur, 2Ga19, jawahrnagar, jaipur-302004. Tel - 0141 - 2654487