Voter coali­tions can bring about pos­i­tive change

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

IN RE­SPONSE to Craig Dodds’s ar­ti­cle, “Splits won’t help mi­nor­ity par­ties” (Week­end Argus, November 2): elec­tions be­come an all-out party-po­lit­i­cal af­fair only be­cause vot­ers al­low it.

Vot­ers in a pro­por­tional sys­tem can take mat­ters into their own hands and get the out­comes they de­sire by think­ing out of the box and press­ing par­ties to take them se­ri­ously. They can do so by creat­ing vi­able and vi­brant voter coali­tions.

In much the same way that po­lit­i­cal par­ties cre­ate coali­tions to make a greater im­pact, voter coali­tions al­low peo­ple to in­crease their clout and en­sure they are not taken for granted. More im­por­tantly, voter coali­tions de­mand trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity from those whom they give their sup­port to. Where vot­ers cre­ate a vot­ing bloc they en­sure that po­lit­i­cal par­ties do not get a blank cheque. They cre­ate pre-elec­tion agree­ments and de­mand per­for­mance af­ter elec­tions.

Voter coali­tions ex­ist in the US and it is cer­tain more peo­ple will turn to their for­ma­tion to be bet­ter ac­com­mo­dated in a po­lit­i­cal process that has re­duced cit­i­zens to vot­ing fod­der.

Imag­ine what would hap­pen if all those who are job­less were to cre­ate a voter coali­tion be­tween now and the elec­tions. It is cer­tain they would not lan­guish with­out jobs af­ter next year.

Sim­i­larly, imag­ine the im­pact of peo­ple se­ri­ously con­cerned about hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, land, health, safety and se­cu­rity, drug abuse, the cost of liv­ing, racism, sex­ism, the en­vi­ron­ment, the des­e­cra­tion of Princess Vlei, vi­o­lence, and cor­rup­tion, among other things, form­ing struc­tured voter coali­tions.

These can arise to ad­dress a sin­gle is­sue or a com­bi­na­tion of is­sues, and can make help­less and frus­trated vot­ers strong and pow­er­ful. They could al­ter the po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

We all know that peo­ple liv­ing in poorer ar­eas have had se­ri­ous ser­vice de­liv­ery is­sues for years. If the peo­ple of Khayelit­sha, Langa, Mitchells Plain and other sim­i­lar ar­eas were to cre­ate a pow­er­ful voter coali­tion, they could be sure that se­rial ne­glect would end. The power is in their hands.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties can dis­re­gard in­di­vid­u­als af­ter the elec­tions, but they dare not do so where strong voter coali­tions ex­ist and where prior agree­ments for sup­port were en­tered into.

For mi­nor­ity par­ties as well as for vot­ers who need to be taken se­ri­ously, some form of coali­tion is the an­swer.

Vot­ers who think “coali­tion” will seize the fu­ture and make South Africa the freest and most de­sir­able coun­try to live in.

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