Archive for août, 2012

Low Turnouts & Social Media

Samedi, août 25th, 2012

Why at a time of increasing disengagement from the political process in a democratic society, are British citizens in general not more actively encouraged, or indeed inspired in the case of the younger generation, to vote?
The latest example of likely low turnout from the effect of a lack of engagement with the British electorate, would seem to concern the new elections planned in November for Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and for which the Electoral Reform Society is currently projecting a turnout of less than 20%.This would be even less than the poor turnout of 31% for the local elections in May, which itself was down from the 35% turnout in 2008 (see Electoral Commission report - 2012-english-locals-election-report-web).
The PCC election process, therefore, does not currently present a good example of local democracy in action unless actual voter turnout levels on the day prove otherwise. As for the May 2012 local government elections, however, should turnout again be poor the local electorate will still live with the “democratic” outcome; they will keep their democratic right to choose to vote or not, irrespective of turnout levels.
This does not mean that low turnouts are acceptable in a democratic society and the question is how to improve matters and particularly for the younger generation? Social media springs to mind where 18 - 24 year olds are concerned and it has already been noted that twice as many of this generation have subscribed to Facebook as have registered to vote. It is interesting then to compare differing articles on Why social media will solve the problem of local voter apathy countered by why Social media cannot solve the problem of local disengagement.

Lowering Growth Expectations for the British Economy

Vendredi, août 10th, 2012

The Bank of England (BOE) has finally taken a more conservative position in managing public expectations of the British economy, by lowering its previous forecast of 0.8% growth for 2012 to zero. This also reflects the unexpected 0.7% contraction (subsequently revised upwards to a 0.5% contraction) in the second quarter of 2012 and its cautious view that the London Olympics would finally have only a small, positive impact on growth in the current third quarter. The Governor of the BOE has also stated that he does not know when growth will return to pre-financial crisis levels in the UK and that he cannot predict how events in the Euro-zone will affect demand for British exports or how business confidence will develop in the real economy.
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has predictably taken this as another opportunity for the Opposition Labour party to repeat that this was time for the Chancellor to admit that his deficit-reduction plans are not working, given that, despite the crisis in the Euro-zone, Britain is just one of two G20 countries in a double dip recession. To counter this argument, it is instructive then to compare the relative performance of the British economy with that of the two other leading European economies i.e. France and Germany.
In actual fact, the Bank of France has now joined the BOE in projecting a more pessimistic view of the French economy, warning that GDP would shrink by 0.1% in the current third quarter, after a similar reduction in the second quarter of 2012, and thereby technically predicting a second (double dip) recession as per the UK. This would also suggest a subsequent reduction in the current forecast of 0.3% growth for the French economy in 2012.
Even the German economy which has been performing resiliently since the Euro crisis in 2010, appears to be slowing down, with industrial production falling by 0.9% in June 2012. If this manufacturing slowdown continues into a German recession, this will be more due to the effects of a general slowing down in global growth, which is already impacting the British and French economies, rather than a reflection of the current policies of the individual governments.