Opinion: Catch-22

POSTED: 11/7/12 12:45 PM

Does it make sense to go and vote? Of course, in a constitutional democracy voting is a right. In other words, there is no obligation to exercise it. The idea is of course that voters elect their representatives and that these representatives that do what they are supposed to do: represent the people that voted for them.

Everybody knows that is does not work quite that way. Look at the election result in the Netherlands where Mark Rutte’s VVD stormed to an astonishing election victory claiming 41 seats in parliament. The new cabinet has hardly begun to govern, but if elections were held today, the VVD would end up with a measly 21 seats.

VVD-voters feel cheated by Rutte because he gave in to demands by the Labor Party to make healthcare premiums income-dependent.

Well, politics is a game of give and take, and Dutch voters grow up with the notion that life is a complicated constellation of compromises. But some compromises are more palatable that others.

How different this is in the United States where the winner takes all and where there are no compromises. For sure, the president will have to negotiate, but the margin for concessions is narrower than in the Dutch system.

What about St. Maarten? We have merged the two systems. We have multi-party coalitions but when push comes to shove the majority simply rules the way it sees fit, until the next carnival celebration.

Voters feel cheated by their representatives more often than not, wherever they live. From that perspective it seems that not voting is the best way to avoid such disappointment. But then, if nobody voted, who would make sure that our garbage is picked up in the morning? Does the term Catch-22 sound familiar?

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