Voting empowers you to influence the future

According to research by the South African Institute of Race Relations, over 20 million South Africans did not vote in the 2019 elections.

According to research by the South African Institute of Race Relations, over 20 million South Africans did not vote in the 2019 elections. Many of them chose to remain at home, showing their discontent with South African politics. Although one can sympathize with voters who feel hopeless because of issues such as poor service delivery and unemployment, everyone should be encouraged to vote. If you do not cast your ballot despite wanting change, you’ve already chosen the status quo. As individuals with agency, we should use our freedom to create the future that we desire. Voting is the foundation on which this hopeful future is built.

When citizens vote, their decisions communicate a message to the political elite and are a message to those in government. These messages then influence how they behave in the government. When a single political party becomes accustomed to repeatedly winning elections, despite its poor performance and corruption, what’s communicated to them is that they do not have to change their style of governance. This creates circumstances where even though voters are unhappy, nothing changes for them in the long-term, and in a positive manner. This problem - that nothing changes - intensifies when voters remain at home or choose to endorse the same party that previously won an election.

When the IRR conducted a poll in 2018 to understand the public’s views on expropriation, it found that 68% of the respondents supported private property rights.  While the majority of South Africans believe in having property rights, the government is pursuing policies that will empower politicians to steal their assets. The disjuncture between how the public and government view expropriation is an example of what happens when many voters choose to remain at home on election day. The message to the political elite, which in this case is pro-private property rights, gets distorted by the minority that chose to vote in the elections.

Elections present voters with an opportunity to determine the course of action that their country needs to travel on to the future. In 2015, most voters in the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union. This decision was an important event in the country’s modern history because it affected its relationship to other countries in Europe. The significance of this event is that it shows how voting is more than just electing politicians. It is also about choosing the ideas that are going to have an impact on the future.

The example of #Brexit focused on a major political issue, but voting has an impact on the smaller issues as well. In South Africa, how much taxes we’ll pay to the local municipality every month, how it will manage its finances, and how it appoints staff members are some of the issues that are affected by people’s decisions at the ballot box. By voting you will have the power to influence the future of our local governments, many of which are facing serious financial challenges.

Voting in the elections is a right that is enshrined in South Africa’s constitution. This right can be used as a tool to influence how our country and its spheres of government are led by the politicians. It is important to vote because this empowers individuals to create the future that they desire for themselves and their families. Failing to vote makes it a given that one’s circumstances will remain the same. This is why one should always use their vote to communicate their sentiments to the political elite.