Local Elections and the “Festival of Local Democracy”


Well…I might be a bit weird, however I am really excited about tomorrow! Why? It is an election day, which gives us ALL another wonderful opportunity to shape our local communities by electing District and County Councillors. There are also significant elections in Scotland, to the Scottish Parliament and Wales, to the Welsh Assembly. Tomorrow will be a busy day for voters and quite a nerve-wracking day for all the candidates!

We often don’t realise but it is very true that even the smallest elections to the parish council affect the way we live our lives.

I often wonder what makes us vote, particularly in the local elections? is it because we want to see a real change in our neighbourhoods? Is it because we want to positively influence the so called “status quo”? Or is it simply because we simply like a particular candidate?

Is our voting based on our political alliances? Would we vote for any candidates of the main political parties in the local elections only because we support their national policies?  

Do we vote tactically?

Or do we vote because we passionately believe in democracy and we want to be part of the civic process?

Equally, what are the reasons for not voting? Overall apathy or maybe tiredness of “negative campaigning”? How often have we seen a leaflet, which instead of setting an agenda for each party or candidate, focuses unnecessarily on “blackmailing” political opponents? Are we fed up with today’s politics, which doesn’t offer opportunities to build political dialogue but instead, re-emphasise division and greater polarization?

As a European national living in the UK for the last 16 years and in spite of these challenges, I hugely look forward to the election day. I am planning to visit the polling station with my family. Any elections, local or national, should be a moment, which unites us all in recognizing the importance of choosing our next political leaders. We become leaders and “game changes” by casting our vote. Let’s all be part of the “Festival of Local Democracy”. Let’s use this wonderful civic tool to empower others and stay connected with issues, which are important and close to our hearts. Our voice matters!

Michal Siewniak

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