Touria Prayag's Blog

Weekly editorial (September 27 2012)

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 30, 2012

The two-man show

This is a headline from the BBC: “Voters in Switzerland have rejected a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places at a referendum.” I thought it might be of interest to you as you might benefi t by knowing that in countries where there is real democracy, it is the people who decide even the most mundane issues such as having a smokers’ corner in public places. It is called participative democracy.

Back in Paradise: the prime minister and the leader of the opposition are deciding major issues like electoral reforms. All by themselves! It is surreal! All we hear are fi gures being tossed at us: 62+20+8. Add to that 1.3 million gullible people + one person eager to get into power and another determined to stay at the helm + demagogues + human apathy…and we are all sitting and watching the future of our democracy unfolding before our eyes as if we were watching a fi lm straight out of Bollywood. Is that what our nation has been reduced to?

Everyone by now agrees that it is time we reviewed our electoral system. We are not impartial on that. But here is where we have a problem.  First, the speed with which this is going is eerie. We are talking about changing the constitution here. It is like creating a new one. In 1965, when our constitution was being drafted, there was a consultation process which went on for a decade. People were allowed to express their opinion before the colonial secretary had the constitution drafted. Today, we want to conclude before the deadline given by the UN and – more importantly – without asking the people of this country what they think.

Secondly, the preposterous number of MPs pulled out of a hat is arbitrary and irrational. Carcassonne actually found that the number of representatives in our national assembly is high enough. In fact, even that is an understatement. We have roughly one MP per every 17,000 citizens. In the UK, for example, they have one for every – hold your breath – 92,000!

And some politicians have the temerity to look us straight in the eye and ask us to pay for 22 more to sit in parliament once a week, for a few months, some without opening their mouths a single time to say anything worth remembering. If you want to know what most of them do for the rest of the time, you just have to scrimp and save for a whole year, take the plane and you will find out. As you head right to go and slum it with the rest of us in the economy class, they haughtily waltz left to the category of the privileged, on a ticket paid for by you.

Twenty more MPs, 20 more pensions, 20 more per diems whenever they feel like it, 20 more duty-free cars, 20 more people not necessarily vetted by the electorate sitting in our legislative assembly. This also, incidentally, means taking away the power from the people by giving the party leaders the possibility to nominate people we did not vote for!

I don’t agree with this, do you? Isn’t it about time someone  asked for our opinion? Surely, this is more serious than having a smokers’ corner in Switzerland’s public places, isn’t it?


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