Disfranchisement (also called disenfranchisement) is the revocation of the right of suffrage (the right to vote) to a person or group of people, or rendering a person’s vote less effective, or ineffective.
That’s what’s happened to me. Today was another election day, this time for MPs to go to the European parliament but even if you’re not that interested in the EU gravy train it is at least an opportunity to have your say about the performance of the current government. So far, it looks as though the people of Poland are generally happy with PO whilst the people of the UK are extremely unhappy with Mr. Brown. Still, losing every recent election by a landslide and having large chunks of his party members resigning and rebelling is, apparently, not going to stop Mr. Brown driving the Labour Party and the country over a cliff!
Here’s the family about to cast a vote earlier today. M can vote in Polish elections and Zosia will also be able to do that when she’s old enough. I can’t.
I believe I could pop down the embassy and vote in UK elections but why on earth would I bother to do that? Upholding my right to vote just for the sake of it surely defeats the whole idea of letting people vote, doesn’t it? Isn’t the idea of voting to give people a say in how their country is governed, how their hard earned tax money is spent? My hard earned tax money is lining Mr. Tusk’s pockets, not Mr. Brown’s. My living standards are Polish, everything a government could do that might effect or influence me happens in Poland, not in the UK (aside perhaps from inheritance tax if there’s anything left to inherit). And yet it is here in Poland that I am denied the vote. I contribute more to this country’s budget than most people I know and yet I am denied any possibility to have a say in how that is spent other than through my wife who quite rightly makes her own contributions and has her own say and is therefore not listening to me.
On the other hand, I can very easily pop down the British Embassy and place my protest vote against Brown. A country where I really don’t care too much who wins or loses because they are more or less the same and take it in turns anyway. A country I no longer contribute to or take from in any way. A country where, quite frankly I feel I have no justification for a vote and therefore don’t exercise my right to do so.
So here I am, not allowed a vote in the elections I care most about in the country of which I am an active and involved “citizen” but allowed a vote in a country that I simply visit as a tourist once or twice a year. Frankly, I’d be happier if I was allowed to transfer my vote to one of the Poles we met working in that fish & chip shop in Llandudno, it would mean more to them than it does to me.
It all seems rather unfair to me and I can’t help wondering if it might change one day?!
On a final note, why is Poland wasting so much forest on their voting slips? Even if it’s recycled paper it surely doesn’t need to be this big, it’s quite ludicrous. An edition of the New York Times plus all supplements doesn’t use as much paper as this! I know electronic systems have had their problems in the past but I would have thought that by 2009 we might have managed to sort that one out!