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Pete's Log: I'm more democratic than you

Entry #1473, Sat, June 02, 2007, 14:58 CEST (Politics)
(posted when I was 28 years old.)

Given how many people on this planet are disenfranchised, I really have it pretty good. I have the right to vote in two countries: the USA and Belgium. And in Belgium, it's not just a right to vote. It's an obligation to vote.

Most of my life, however, I've spent beneath the radar of the Belgian authorities. It wasn't until last summer that I got a Belgian passport. That activated my electoral responsibilities. I had to register to vote in February, and yesterday I got my ballot in the mail. It's due by June 10. And it looks pretty serious.

The only part of the instructions that I'm sure I understand so far is "You do not need to return the pencil."

I actually have two ballots, one for national and one for regional elections. Both have columns of candidates, each column representing a party. The instructions indicate that voting in more than one column invalidates the ballot. This means I can only vote for one party. So basically I just pick a party. I have the option of voting for alternates within the party instead of the party lineup, but I still think this is silly.

So in the regional elections, I have the following parties to choose from: CDV & NVA, Vlaams Belang, open vld, Groen!, sp.a-spirit, Lijst Dedecker, CAP, PVDA+, Belg Unie Bub, and Pluralis. In the national ballot, the party list is the same, except without Belg Unie Bub and Pluralis, but with the addition of Nee and stijn.

I started writing up detailed notes on the various parties and was going to make a nice post out of it, but two things just led me to delete a dozen or more paragraphs that took me a couple hours to write: frustration with my inability to understand a lot of the platforms written in Dutch, and an even greater frustration with the political system in Belgium. I don't feel like voting for any of them right now.

I'll call home as soon as there is a reasonable expectation for my Dad to be awake, and ask his opinion.


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