In a few hours in Australia, voting will begin to elect a new parliament: many will go to the polls, about 17 million people out of a total population of approximately 26 million, because voting in Australia has been compulsory since 1924. Whoever does cannot go to vote physically on Election Day, However, he has other possibilities, including expressing his preference by mail. In general, however, the only situation in which not voting is allowed is when you have an exemption that is only granted if there are valid reasons: a violation of the rule involves a very reduced fine (20 in Australian dollars, about 13 euros), but it is also possible The obligation to appear before a judge risks imprisonment.
In Australia, compulsory voting was introduced after only 59% of eligible voters went to the polls in the 1922 election. Since then, the law has never been changed and has recently been defined by Labor and the Greens as a “cornerstone of Australian democracy” . he is continuous Even by the majority of the population (about 70 percent, according to the latest figures).
Supporters and supporters of compulsory voting they say The extremely high rates obtained since the first years of approval of the procedure are a testament to its effectiveness. Although there has been a slight drop in turnout in the last three elections, turnout has never fallen below 90% since the introduction of compulsory voting. Another argument in favor is that compulsory voting makes the political system more representative of the entire population, thus contributing to the political legitimacy of different governments: and vice versa, the low turnout in countries where voting is not compulsory is often used as an argument to support the illegitimacy of elected politicians.
For those who advocate compulsory voting, Parliament and the government thus elected would be more inclined to act in the name of the common good rather than in partisan interests. According to some, the prescriptive nature would discourage extremism, almost always resulting in the emergence of a moderate vote. Finally, it will allow election campaigns to focus more on content than on calls to vote.
Over the years, in Australia, there have been many proposals to make voting optional. Critics of the commitment argue that, although voter percentages remain high, they do not correspond to an ideal and effective political participation: voting not to pay a fine, and then perhaps to annul the ballot, is not short democratic. success.
Therefore, it is not certain that the coercive nature offers a solution to the “crisis of democracies” and, in general, to the growing mistrust of institutions, say critics: evidence of this is the fact that young Australian voters and young electricians, according to the data, They don’t seem be more familiar with political issues than their peers in countries where a voluntary voting system exists; Moreover, forcing people to vote will greatly increase the number of invalid and empty votes. Mobilizing many politically separate voters may ultimately harm democracy by increasing the proportion of “random votes”.
Finally, several arguments to the contrary point to the fact that the obligation is an unjustified infringement of individual liberty, that it is undemocratic or that it infringes on the “right of the people not to vote”.
In Italy, voting is a moral and ethical duty, but the obligation and any consequences for non-compliant parties were abolished at the beginning of the 1990s by the repeal of Decree of the President of the Republic No. 361 of March 30, 1957, which, Article 4, He saidVoting is a duty that no citizen can evade without failing to perform a specific duty towards the country. Penalties, however symbolic and little applied, in the event of abstentions provide for the creation of certificates of good conduct for voters and public lists.
Before Australia, compulsory voting was introduced in Belgium in 1892 and Argentina in 1914. Then it was present in Greece, Luxembourg, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Singapore and in about two dozen other countries. But in only about 14 countries. These are the laws that are already in force.
The International Institute for Democracy and Elections (IDEA), a Stockholm-based intergovernmental organization that supports and strengthens democratic institutions and processes around the world, He says It is not possible to say with a single number about countries that practice compulsory voting: “It is actually more constructive to analyze compulsory voting as a ghost.” The scope includes countries that formally have mandatory voting laws but do not enforce them, countries that penalize those who do not comply with compulsory voting, countries where such penalties are minimal, and countries that introduce loopholes to the compulsory voting itself (in many countries, that is, no voting is required Unless you are registered, but registration is not mandatory).
According to IDEA, in short, there are laws of a compulsory nature whose real purpose is “only” to express a position on what the responsibility of citizens should be and which only serve as an incentive.
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