_89618677_8In the last NZ elections, most of us at Redline saw no point in voting.  We argued that there simply wasn’t anything to vote for and that non-voting at least indicated disillusionment with the system.  New Zealand is not the only place with falling voter turnout – indeed, it’s an international trend.  Ironically it is often accompanied by a greater number of political parties.  It is almost as if there is a new rule – the more political parties, the fewer the real choices.  Instead, we have a kind of tyranny of the centre.  In the article below prominent Irish republican figure Sean Bresnahan of the 1916 Societies look at last week’s elections for the Stormont Assembly, the body which pretends to act as a parliament for the northern state in Ireland.  He reflects on the low turnout there and the crisis of legitimacy it should herald for the Sinn Fein-Democratic Unionist Party regime there.  One positive from the election, not mentioned by Sean, is that two candidates from the leftist People Before Profits Alliance, were elected to the Assembly. 

by Sean Bresnahan

Following yesterday’s elections to Stormont, many reports, and indeed complaints, about low voter turnout are beginning to surface, with some arguing if you didn’t vote you have no right to complain and others suggesting voting should be mandatory and people compelled to vote or be fined. So much for free choice (as if one exists in the first place).

In my opinion a low turnout is a good thing. Were the turnout to fall below 50 percent then the Sinn Fein-DUP coalition could not claim a mandate for the austerity programme they are inflicting on our communities on behalf of their bosses in London. This is why I sat at home, as I will not allow my vote – not even were it to be spoiled – to legitimise the attacks they are perpetrating on working people.

While some claim it incredible that people complained but didn’t vote, for me what is incredible is that people still believe voting in a liberal democratic system can change anything of note. Maybe those who sat at home have realised this and thus refuse to participate in an organised farce, set up to secure consent for that which has not in fact been agreed to: austerity.

In reality, decisions are not taken within the outward framework of liberal democracy. They are reached and implemented elsewhere, with politicians thrust forward every so often as paid perjurers todupe the public they had a choice or are somehow involved in this manipulated process, which is nothing but a facade.

This is not democracy but ruling by fooling. We are ruled by giant corporations and not the sold out political merchants in Stormont, their massive salaries and expense claims their price for going along with the system. It’s a farce, people see it and thus they refuse to play along. This is why turnout is down.

A clear example of how what passes in Ireland for ‘government’ does not in fact impact on our lives is the lack of a government for over two months now in the South. Society or the economy have not collapsed in its absence. Nor would they had a government not been formed for another two months again – or two years for that matter.

The electoral process then is nothing more than a confidence trick, used to manipulate the masses and encourage the notion they can choose their fate or at least act to limit the assault by power on our everyday lives. And that, by the way, is what we should expect – that the assault on society will ramp up over the time ahead, while our own corrupt politicians watch on in bought silence.

The reason behind what is to come is simple: there is an unresolved and soon-to-worsen crisis at the heart of capitalism. Having devoured the economies of what are known in econo-speak as ‘Lesser Developed Countries’, imperialism has no option but to turn in on itself and attack ‘its own’. That is what austerity is about.

If we seriously intend on challenging this then elections to Stormont are not the answer. Instead, we need to take to the streets the next time – and every time – there are striking workers in our cities and towns. On the last such occasion, at least here in Omagh, a lunchtime rally to afford non-striking workers an opportunity to march in solidarity was poorly supported. Our town gave a half-hearted response while politicians posed for photographs unmolested.

This is what needs to change, so the puppets at Stormont can see we are not just going to vote for them in perpetuity while capitalism destroys our communities, that we will not simply lie down so the party can go on for Cameron and Osbourne and for their corrupt friends – all while the cosy arrangement ‘on the hill’ keeps those there well-heeled and well fed.

We must show them through our actions that we will not stand by as murderous imperialism destroys country after country – the last of which, Libya, saw the sacker of Libya himself, David Cameron, met with a standing ovation by all 108 MLAs across all parties on his visit to Stormont following the butchering of that defenceless country.

Elections change none of that, with our politicians bought to ensure this is so. Instead of mandatory voting as prescribed by some, to ward of the pending crisis of legitimacy falling turnout brings in its wake, there should be mandatory opposition to the reactionary assault on the working class and mandatory solidarity with the victims of imperialism, which our politicians wilfully ignore.

Until we get to that point then not only do we allow the fake democracy granted us by our masters and their minions in our useless political parties to fool us further; we are in fact doing the fooling ourselves. Instead, we must take responsibility, stand up and fight back. If anything is to be made mandatory then surely it should be that.

‘The great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!’ – Jim Larkin



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