The farce that is known as an ‘election campaign’ is still upon us here in Australia. Two weeks to go before we are relieved from the inanities and mindless drivel. However, the most interesting item seems to have slipped by the notice of most: 25% of people aged under 24 have simply not bothered to register for voting (since we have compulsory voting, the way to avoid voting is not register). For those 18 and 19 it is higher still: only 3641 of the 624,539 new voters since 2010 are in that age bracket. Add to all this the fact that an increasing number of those who do vote make informal votes, that is, mess up the voting paper by putting extra names on it and ticking those boxes, and so on. At the last election, informal votes were 10%.
What should we make of this? It’s a phenomenon common across bourgeois democracies. Where voting is voluntary, young people are staying away in increasing numbers. Some of the commentariat (at least those who have noticed) make vacuous suggestions, such as political parties not engaging with the issues that affect young people, or that young people are too lazy and can’t get up in time, or that they think only of themselves. But might it be that they are actually sick of bourgeois democracy itself? They can see all too clearly how useless the whole system is at dealing with the real problems that face us.
In that light, I reckon it’s a good idea for those who live in the blessed absence of bourgeois democracy to be present in a country where an election campaign is under way (I’m thinking of my Chinese students, among others). That way they can see how useless bourgeois democracy really is.