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There is a welcome proposal from Ranil Jayawardena MP to strengthen local democracy. He says:

“In 120 council areas up and down the country, we elect representatives every year. This means that councils are constantly in a state of flux. Furthermore, the constant state of electioneering means there can be little or no planning for the long-term. I know – I’ve been the deputy leader of a council without an overall majority.

“Once again, we should strive for strong, stable government, in the electoral cycle as much as through the electoral system. If we were to change the system, so that all local elections were held on the same day – say every four years, on a super Thursday – voters would know that their vote makes a difference, leading to greater voter engagement and greater public interest.”

Politicians – locally as well as nationally – should be held to account for the decisions they make. But for the process to work, the public need to have some chance to see the impact before delivering their verdict. An annual election cycle does not allow for this. That skews the system against radical decision-making and in favour of the short term fudge.

Certainly having all-out elections would also encourage a higher turnout from voters and greater attention from them. Often if only a third of seats are up to be contested it means there is no chance of a change in control and therefore, they reason, no need to bother voting.

Sure, there is also the matter of saving money by having the elections on the same day. But far more money is wasted by a system so disastrously rigged to reward those who dodge making a decision that would be vindicated in two or three years – but would be controversial for two or three months.

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