McGill students film their vote mob video for the 2011 federal election on campus. Apr 14 2011

McGill students film their vote mob video for the 2011 federal election on campus. Apr 14 2011

“If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.”  Mahatma Gandhi

The Ericle is in Marseille this week. Currently France is exercised by the Presidential launch of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen presidential campaign; aided & abetted by a political scandal involving Francois Fillon, the only other candidate of The Right deemed potentially capable of beating her. By the end of the year Brexit may simply become a bit-part to the story of the break-up of the EU within a global scenario featuring Trump’s USA, Putin’s Russia and a line-up of other significant supporting cast, such as Erdogan’s Turkey, Netanyahu’s Israel & Ali Khamenei’s Iran.


The political climate that is potentially propelling Le Pen to the French Presidency seems very familiar territory to me:

  • a worsening economic climate that no longer can offer financial crumbs of comfort to the worse-offs of society
  • the resultant belief that major post-WW2 political parties no longer represent their interests
  • a perception that regional arrangements and international agenda damage national well-being
  • a political debate whereby any argument produced from perceived establishment sources, including the media, is seen as conspiratorial
  • the exploitation by politicians of the above to fuel a return to fervent nationalism and its parallel incarnation of counter-culture political leaders

These understandings are not revelatory. The discussions that I have been having with my French hosts, and the intense debates that I have seen on French television, readily pick up these threads. However all these exercised opinions are devoid of the one thing that really matters – a practical political strategy that can counter-act such reactionary forces and win the day.

Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, United States, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young - RTS3GSJ

Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, United States, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young – RTS3GSJ

As I watched the images on television last night of the latest Le Pen rally something else struck me that seems all too familiar to me – the disproportionate support that she receives from the older sector of the electorate. It is also a psephological truth that the young are under-involved in national politics. They are out there for causes, such as environmentalism, feminism and anti-nuclear energy; however they more-or-less have little faith in national political debate as the forum to achieve their aims. I do believe that this is fundamentally different from when I was young; when I also had these passions but where I also had the knowledge that there were enough of us around that our views could not be ignored. In short the mathematics of the demographics of the population are working against the younger – and in my opinion, progressive – sector of our society claiming their place at the political tables.


Getting the younger end of society involved in national politics is key. Is it not strange that as parents we have almost blind faith in our children, and push them forward at every opportunity, but when it comes to making choices for our political destinies we selfishly assert parental authority and thereby effectively discourage youthful self-determination. We need to understand that this mind-set, and the demographic mathematics supporting it, are damaging to the long-term well being of our societies. My over-bearing generation needs to find ways to involve the young more in those decisions forming our societies. We need to do this not just because in so many ways our ideas are stale, and their ideas are fresher, but also in recognition that their stake in the world to come is statistically more significant than our own.

I believe that I may have an idea that could contribute to achieving this. This involves the enfranchisement within the voting system of adjustments that reflect the fact that the impact of any decision is greater on those that have the longest to live with it. Thus, if one were to divide up the voting population into age-deciles between 20 and 80, (with those aged under 20 and over 80 being placed in the proximate decile), one could then to reflect this objective. For instance the below seems one could come up with a matrix such as this:

Age: 17-29/Vote Value: 1.2

Age: 30-39/Vote Value: 1.1

Age: 40-49/Vote Value: 1.0

Age: 50-59/vote Value: 1.0

Age: 60-69/Vote Value: 0.9

Age: 70+   /Vote Value: 0.8

One could be entirely scientific in such a formula and before any election produce a calculation based on actual demography. Precise or notional, either would produce a beneficial correction that would not only reflect age-related future investment but also encourage the involvement of those at the younger end of the electorate.


Ok, you may not fancy my proposal but it is an entry-point to a political debate that reflects that our current political institutions are, in parts, not fit for purpose and that they need to evolve. Change will not come overnight, but we are entering into difficult waters. We can, Nero-like, endlessly debate how this state of affairs has come about or we can do something about it………




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One Response to It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  1. Wernhart Hans says:

    Defintely strategies we should discuss and pursue.

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