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EDITORIAL: Time to educate people on govt

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Time to educate people on govt

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We have advised it before, and it may be worth repetition at this time because of its topicality, but it is pellucidly clear that this nation has to make sure that its people understand their system of Government.
In the wake of the election results that are as close as can be without being a hung Parliament, we have discerned an enormous gap in national knowledge about elections and the Constitution and it is patently clear that this gap needs to be filled.
So many questions are being asked about the consequences of the very close result that such widespread thirst for knowledge makes the case without more.
Yet the fact that there is now a consensus that money was exchanged in return for promises by voters demands the exposure of all interested persons to an understanding of our governmental system.  
One never knows but something must have happened to account for the volatility in the shifting opinions as shown by the polls.
But even without this circumstance, we have the emphatic statements by the Prime Minister and others touching on this issue.
It is a deadly serious issue when sane, intelligent people can be seduced into promising to vote for Mr X, if in return Mr X or his buddies hand over cash or goods. Proper exposure to an understanding of the system of government and, in particular, an understanding of the value of the vote and the history of its eventual and hard-fought devolution to a right to everyone would cause any right-thinking person to recoil from such action.
We fully appreciate that however educated or informed we might be, there will always be those who are prepared to accept money or other gifts to “sell” their vote, but we feel sure that education about how the system ought to work should prove to be a veritable impediment in the way of any sizeable violation of that sacred constitutional right.
Over the years, this country has enjoyed a high reputation as a bastion of democracy, mainly because of the peace, order and good governance that we have enjoyed. As we make our way as an independent nation, we can ill afford to mar that enviable record of free and fair elections.
The reportedly brazen manner in which these infringements of our electoral laws were undertaken speaks volumes about the danger to our society and to our democracy if we do not nip this evil in the bud.  
Informing the populace about our system of government may not in and of itself solve the problem; but it may be a useful first step to be combined with increased vigilance on election day and sharper enforcement of the specific law!  
Whatever we do, we cannot afford to acquiesce in this practice or in the least bit fail to vigorously condemn it, for no meaningful democracy can ever be bought.
Only the free, unpurchased expression of the people’s will can guarantee our democracy.