“Why would I bother with voting? It’s not going to matter anyway.”
“Voting for someone you hate over someone you have even more? Not doing that.”
“My favorite candidate is out, so why would I vote?”
These are only some of the comments that I have heard in the past few weeks regarding the upcoming election, and it has taken a lot of my European aplomb to nod in silence instead of wishing my interlocutors a very unpleasant itch in the tail.
The reason for my resentment can be easily explained: I come from a country where the right to vote has been on a temporary ban for eight years. I come from a country ruled by a government, and a president, who has not been chosen by its people. I come from a country where many, many citizens, including myself, would give up on anything just to have their right to vote again.
The country I am talking about is in the middle of Europe, it is a rather wealthy one, too. Italy. A little bit of history for you: the last time Italy voted (and their vote mattered) it was 2008. The parties of Veltroni and Berlusconi won, but because of a large debt crisis, Berlusconi resigned. Here is where the funk begins. The president of our country, Napolitano, elected an emergency government, led by the “politically agnostic” (hint: he was not) Monti. No trace of elections here.
In December 2012 Monti resigned, and we were without a governor for a couple of months. Come 2013, however, following the Italian 5-year alternation rule, it was time for elections again. That’s exciting, right? Right, except for the fact that the 2013 elections were declared “a tie”: none of the parties reached the required majority. Instead of doing the elections again, which might have seemed reasonable, Napolitano elected a new governor by himself, Letta. Again, not chosen by the people.
Letta resigned in 2014, and two days after, Renzi, the current governor, presented himself as a possible substitute. He was accepted, and he is currently our governor. Our current president is Mattarella (elected within the government). We will have elections again, we hope, in 2018.
Imagine being given a president and having to bear with him, whether you like him or not. Imagine a place where becoming president is as simple as going to a job interview. Imagine being taken away one of your most fundamental human rights: the right to decide how to be ruled and who to be ruled by.
And now, imagine people who can choose. Imagine them coming to you and telling you they do not like the choices they are being offered, so they will just ignore the possibility of choosing instead. Imagine someone that has something that you would die to have, but does not care for it, smashes it around carelessly and ignores it.
Please, please, please, use your right to vote. Not everyone has it. Your people have fought so hard for it. Some people, people like me, are still fighting for it. Do not think it will not make a difference because it will; if everybody thinks that way, then of course it will make a difference, and a huge one, too.
When you drop your piece of paper into the ballot box, whatever it says, think of me. Maybe I do not know you, maybe you are only reading my words through these pages, but trust me, I would be very proud of you.