Is that it assumes that everyone is making an informed choice. It assumes, also, that the people making those choices are of perfect rational mind, and are able to decide to do what’s best for themselves. Of course, no society is comprised exclusively of people who meet these characteristics, but what we do find are democracies, such as the US, Britain, Germany and Japan, where the majority of people do. Therefore, there is almost a democracy within a democracy (like a dream within a dream). The majority of citizens are able to cast their votes with their best interests at heart, and the majority of these votes will determine the power of the next Government.
But, unfortunately, not all democracies work so well. We have countries such as ours, Malaysia, where arguably, many of our voters do not have the capacity to arrive at their electoral decision with reasons beyond the simple giving of gifts and well-disguised bribes; i can’t say whether its the majority or not, but i suspect its pretty widespread; certainly Batu Sapi is dominated by many who will vote thusly.
This is not to say that only the poor and uneducated are susceptible to such ploys, the sad truth is that even the rich (perhaps, especially the rich) and educated cast their votes for very questionable reasons. “My parents voted BN, so will i, because i’m middle income just like my parents were, my life is ok, i’ve got a nice car, a home, my kids are well looked after, and i have a stable job. I have no real ambition to rock the boat. Why should i?”
The appeal of something better doesn’t necessarily appeal to them; perhaps because they are not convinced that they will get something better in Government by voting the Opposition. The saying, “a bird in hand is better than two in a bush” amply describes how many feel towards the advances and promises of Pakatan Rakyat.
The concept of change for the sake of change is very alien to Malaysians (and to Asians in general if Kishore Mahbubani is to be believed). The large voter support for PR we see today stems from voters who have been slighted personally by the ruling BN in some way or form over the years; those that have not been directly (this is open to debate) affected, are unlikely to jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of getting on. Unfortunately for PR, this group’s numbers are quite large among the poor (who like the residents of Batu Sapi, don’t really want something “better”) and among segments of the middle class who despite the shaking of their heads at the corruption of BN, have no real desire to change because to them, their lives are “ok”.
Some may argue that this isn’t the problem with democracy, rather this is it’s strength. The country gets the Government is deserves – if you don’t vote, or if you vote wrongly and the country takes a turn for the worse, then you only have yourself to blame. Democracy gives us choices, and we have to live with those choices. If we make a mistake, we only need to wait 3-4 years to correct it at the next polls. That’s some consolation, i suppose.
Vote wisely come GE13, 4 years can be a long time.