In the last Canadian Federal Election in 2008, voter participation plunged to a historic low: Merely 58.8% of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots, a significant drop from the previous election and the first time voter participation had dipped under 60%.
With the next election looming on Monday, what are the odds that participation will improve? Not good, says Political Scientist Lawrence Leduc in the Globe and Mail. He’s done the numbers, and if he’s correct, voter participation could sneak as low as 57%.
Why the apathy? Many theories abound. It’s true that this is the fourth election in seven years, with the last three resulting in minority governments and the outcome unlikely to be much different this time.
Key support groups for each political party may also be staying away in droves–for example, pro-life advocates are unimpressed with Stephen Harper’s vow not to reopen the abortion debate and may simply stay home to show their displeasure.
Hyperpartisanship is at an all time high and civility is at an all-time low in the House of Commons, alienating all but the uber-political. Conservative attack ads have also done their intended job, leaving swing voters disillusioned with the opposition parties but still not inclined to vote Conservative. Overall, there appears to be a general sense of “voting doesn’t matter.”
What can turn the tide? Not much, says political scientist John Pammett, who says lack of voter turnout is a “generational” trend that began in the 1990s. Are we destined to have our government run without our voices being heard at all? And if so, do we still have the right to complain?
For more Care2 coverage on the Canadian election, click here.
Photo credit: Muffet on Flickr