We seem to have slipped through the looking glass the moment the election date was announced. True to the score that gets re-enacted every five years or so, we are asked to suspend belief and play our part. As voters in a liberal democracy, we are expected to go through the motions of weighing the pros and cons of different candidates and political party programmes and we are expected to convince ourselves that we still have a strong say in the running of the nation.
We are supposed to take as given the fact that a Cabinet of politicians who are either actively or passively involved in corrupt practices will present themselves once again as the most viable option for the majority. The incumbent Party will return to the pure territory of the phantasmagorical promises – a greener, richer, brighter future. In doing so, it will hide the track record of the last five years sculpted in concrete, mired in greylisting, and blackened with scandal after scandal after scandal.
The promises that have already rained upon the naïve electorate in just two days of campaigning should provoke a sense of revulsion in any seasoned voter who should by now be able to see beyond the empty hypocrisy. Forget that. The poll results will confirm that a vast majority of the electorate is taken in by the unsubstantiated promises of riches. The corruption virus is now officially endemic.
The main Party in Opposition got off the starting blocks with an apparent schism that could either mean the purging of uncomfortable elements or the beginning of a huge rift. It could be a commendable step towards a clearer, more focused Opposition. We are yet to see an all-out commitment to systemic reform though. The Nationalist Party is aware that this is a moment of crisis that requires solutions that go above and beyond a clash of electoral policies. Whether it acts on this awareness is another thing altogether.
Essentially, the election campaign, or at least the early stages of the campaign, is lacking a platform that advocates the real change that this country needs. It is a platform that would be above all the rhetoric and usual Party propaganda. This platform would be the anti-system platform and its presence could be manifested in either a list of candidates outside the Party sphere who campaign solely on constitutional reform or in the utopic resort by large numbers to the use of the empty ballot paper to express disapproval of the fare on offer.
This election should have been a walkover for any decent opposition given the track record of this government. Too many scandals to sustain. Too many implosions of projects. The dark cloud of responsibility for the assassination of a journalist should have been enough fodder to end Labour’s tenure in Castille.
Instead, we are back to voting for the lesser evil. We are back to holding our noses to vote PN because an abstention or a vote for anyone else would lead to a catastrophic landslide by an already corrupt government running on impunity.
Mark my words. The system has once again disenfranchised thousands of voters. It has reduced their discretionary power when voting to the bare minimum. This is not a situation that can be tolerated much longer. Voting should not be an exercise in damage limitation.
The electoral process should not be a stroll through wonderland. The main parties should not have an automatic right to the vote of the people, otherwise, we risk reliving Brecht’s conundrum. He wrote of a government that had lost confidence in the people following an uprising. The solution? That the government should “dissolve the people and elect another”.
At this rate, it could almost become a reality.