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On Friday the 23rd of May I will be playing my small part in hopefully the smooth running of local democracy. I will be one of the counter of votes for the European Elections that are being held on the 22nd.
This is the second time I have had the honour of this task after I did the very same thing in the first elections that were held for the new role of Police Commissioner's that were created to give local democratic control over the police. The vote was carried out using the P.R system instead of the first past the post system that are used in the national elections.
The European Elections also use the P.R system and although like a lot of people I wasn't sure about using this type of system for voting; I now believe it's a better system to use. What I have noticed about these European Elections are that a lot more people are now taking an interest in voting. During the seventies when the older first past the post system was used most people didn't bother to vote in the European Elections because basically you only had two two parties that had any chance of winning, the Conservative or Labour.
Now the smaller parties have a chance of winning and it has really opened the debate. Even though the old style parties still gain the most the power; the smaller parties views work their way through the system to effect national policy.
As an example take the Green Party. They have never held national power, but their agenda is flooding into daily life. In my youth in the seventies factories used to pump their waste straight into the rivers, and raw sewage went straight into the bathing waters off our coast. And as for green energy is was just for science fiction writers.
Now our rivers are clean and teaming with wild-life, and the hundred miles of continuous beach in Norfolk have blue flags flying over most of them. Off the coast of East Anglia are sited two of the countries largest wind farms, with a third is under construction, and one of the U.K's biggest solar farms has just started to operate south of the town of North Walsham. Norfolk County Council are in the early stages of commissioning a second solar farm to be constructed on the runway at the old R.A.F base in Coltishal potentially making it the biggest in Great Britain.
Within the next five years Norfolk could truly call itself the first Green County in the country. All the homes, factories, offices and businesses could be powered by energy that comes solely from the wind or sun!
With pesticides slowly being taken out of farming, and my local authority of Broadland having one of the best recycling rates for house hold rubbish in the county; things have improved so much over the last twenty years, it's easy for people to forget how dirty our past was.
And it's a continuing process. The second largest bus company in the county are changing their fleet from diesel power to run on much cleaner natural gas, and the days of the all electric car being the main type of vehicle on our roads are fast approaching.
I do believe that if we had stayed with the old voting system for the European Elections none of this would have happen. The same old tired parties would have looked after their same old interests, and apathy would have ruled the elections. It was common for some areas to only get a 20% (or less) turn out for the vote, but now that has all changed.
Life would be a lot more hazardous, not just for me, but also my children, if it wasn't for the small parties like the Greens banging away making the larger parties look over their shoulders, while stealing the Greens ideas to keep themselves in power.
That's the beauty of Democracy and one well worth making the twenty minute diversion from your daily routine to make the effect to visit the polling booth, and to cast your vote. Not to would be just plain madness.