Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Voter registration as a tool against demagogues

October 15th, 2011

A liberal conservative blogger supports the introduction of voter registration as outlined in the draft election law, which will soon be discussed by Parliament. In his view such a  requirement would help combat demagoguery by keeping last minute voters away from the ballot box.

Preliminary registration is a reasonable institution to separate voters who are interested in public life and are somewhat politically informed, from ignorant people who are very easily manipulated. We should seriously consider its introduction if we do not want the Sunday rain to determine the outcome of the elections, and if we want to stop politicians making absurd campaign promises,” blogger Véleményvezér comments on the draft election law presented by the government to Parliament. The new law may introduce preliminary registration of voters.

Véleményvezér acknowledges that democracy is by and large an advantageous institution, but adds that it also invites irresponsible voting, “as the examples of democratically elected but awful leaders, practising lunatics and dictators show.”

The weakness of democracy could be overcome by limiting the access of uninformed voters to the ballot box, Véleményvezér believes. He reminds readers of research findings which suggest that a significant percentage of voters make up their minds only in the ballot booth. Such last minute decisions can hardly be considered well-thought through and sound judgements. One might imagine that “some votes are determined pretty much by the quality of the lunch served on election day, or by the performance of the local football team,” Véleményvezér notes.

More importantly, uninformed voters are easy targets for demagogues, the blogger adds. Previous elections in Hungary showed that “poor people are willing to trade their votes for cheap promises, or a thousand forints, or a bowl of soup”. The result is that campaigns are dominated by irrational and unrealistic promises.

“No doubt the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy will ring the alarm bells. We, however, strongly encourage the government to go ahead with this proposal.”