A few weeks ago I wrote about democracy and the type of person attracted by political power. Today I want to look at democracy from the other point of view and how our current political system negates it.

In Australia, as in many other countries, including the USA, politics is dominated by two major political parties. Here we also have one fairly large third party which is unlikely ever to govern, plus a few more minor parties and independents.

What does government by party involve? Firstly those who want to serve in it generally choose a party to join and hence get their backing. This limits their voting options, with some parties refusing to let them vote against party policy, throwing them out of the party if they do. Even those who do this where it is tolerated are unlikely to get major party positions in future. This need to select a party immediately restricts their policy and is likely to create a barrier between themselves and the people they wish to represent.

Those who choose the pathway of an independent member are not restricted by party politics but have other obstacles, including lack of access to party funds to help in election and other expenses. If they do manage to get elected without a party there is still the problem of representing their electorate. How do their constituents wish them to vote on any issue? One independent in Australia has attempted to solve the problem by having groups of constituents to advise her and also giving some of them the opportunity to do voluntary work in her office, on a rotating basis, so they can get an idea of how politics works.

This type of representation is far more accurate than those who are elected to follow party lines, in ways which may or may not coincide with their electorate’s views on specific issues. One example is the issue of same sex marriage. My suspicion is that members will vote according to their own views which I suspect were often formed when society only accepted male and female gender, and denied the evidence that some did not fit in to this either physically or mentally, or followed the behaviour prototypes associated with this.

As populations grow and elected members in different countries often only pay lip service to true democracy, parliamentary voting becomes a major problem, particularly for major parties who tend to leave decision making in the hands of a few. True democracy means everyone having a say in decision making, not just prominent party members, or even ordinary party members. We need to work out a system for all to be involved if we are to achieve the best system. Electronic communication is a terrific asset but we need to also change our way of thinking and involve more of members’ constituents.

We all need to try to find a better way of having a true democracy in which the views of everyone are considered, including those on the lower rungs of the population ladder. The current system unfortunately seems to put us in the hands of lobby groups.