Is it any wonder why politicians elected under an undemocratic system would defend that system? Well, that’s exactly what they are doing.
While we can’t stop people making uninformed choices at the polling booth, donkey voting is very much a symptom of compulsory voting.
Some people select candidates at random, take a stab in the dark, confuse party names, or treat the election as if it were a Melbourne Cup horse race and pick the party, or should I say donkey, with the best sounding name, irrespective of form.
Of course it’s easy to blame the individuals who do this, but it does happen. And the system itself tells people that they should vote. It’s illegal not to. So technically donkey voters are obeying the law, even if the system has made donkeys out of them.
And then there is the complex preferencing system. Where preferences rely on secretive backroom deals, unknown to voters, or when people select preferences because they have no choice, whether they like the alternatives or not.
So what’s the result? Politicians elected undemocratically, not based on the will of the people, but due to a sampling error or a selection bias. And the trouble is, the problem is swept under the rug.
Why would politicians who have prospered under an undemocratic system complain? Why would they claim that their newly bestowed power is illegitimate? After all, many of them have worked hard to play the system.
At best politicians keep their mouths shut or smugly placate the electorate with glib suggestions of change, while others promote the undemocratic nature of the system as a virtue, in order to maintain the system that favours their style of politics.
Clearly we should all have the same free and equal right to vote, free from government coercion. Our decision to vote should be democratic, and our choice should be final.
But who will champion electoral reform? The Queen? Because the politicians almost certainly won’t.
I think Australian politicians are afraid of democracy. Scared of losing support if the people’s decision to vote were democratic.