One in the eye for Lech

Three of my colleagues, all girls in their twenties, had a heated discussion this morning over a demand for one of them to register on the electoral roll. The girl, a Pole, didn’t want to be obliged to give over her details to some unknown body to do goodness knows what with (lose them, probably) when she had no intention of voting. One of her colleagues, originally from Belgrade, agreed: there’s no point voting, it won’t change anything. The third, an English girl with an unaccountable ambition to become an American citizen, said she felt morally obliged to vote as so many people had died defending her freedom. Besides, she said, if you don’t vote, then it really won’t change anything.

I can see that voting in a country that you don’t really consider your own, somewhere where you plan to work for a few years before you go back ‘home’, can seem pointless. Had I been eligible to vote when I lived in Poland, I’m not sure I would have known where to begin. Politics was a touchy subject there, even after the communists.

Inevitably there is disillusion when dreams come true, which, in dreaming, we did not conceive. But what damage have these first post-Communist governments done, that the idealistic young people who fought for democracy have turned their backs on it so quickly?

I found it astonishing that two young people who experienced childhood in totalitarian regimes, and who now are benefiting enormously from their transformation into democratically elected ones (however flawed), should regard the right to vote so lightly.

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~ by jobes on January 21, 2008.

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