Since I obtained the right to vote 44 years ago, I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote, whether in a national or local election. It has not been difficult for me to decide how to cast my vote since principles and ideology matter more to me than current policy or the particular candidate, so I have always voted Labour.
I am aware, however, that if I lived in another country my decision might not be so easy. I was struck by this thought when considering three national elections held this weekend in very different countries and circumstances.
In France, would I have voted for the Centre-Left Socialist Party or the neo-Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)? I would not have hesitated. I am delighted that the Socialists now hold the Presidency and both chambers in France.
In Greece, would I have voted for the New Democracy Party or the new and resurgent Syriza? On the one hand, I want Greece to stay in the Eurozone, so I would have been tempted to vote NDP. On the other hand, I think that the austerity measures imposed by Greece’s creditors are too harsh, so I would have been tempted to support Syriza. In the end, I guess I would have voted for Pasok, the socialist party, but I would have been concerned that, by supporting a party with relatively low support, I was opting out of deciding who was going to form the next Greek government.
In Egypt, in the first vaguely democratic election for president, would I have voted for the former prime minister and ex-air commander Ahmed Shafiq or the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Mursi? On the one hand, I want a complete break with the regime of the former dictator Hosni Mubarek which would have led me to Mursi. On the other hand, I want a political system that is not dominated by religious fundamentalists and will offer economic and social stability which might have led me to Shafiq. I don’t know what I would have done – probably taken a risk with Mursi.
Democracy is complicated …