top of page

We have the choice

In 2024, several elections will take place in Saxony, which, due to the current political situation, will cast even longer shadows than is already the case with elections. Until September, we want to keep publishing information, opinions, tips and a Jewish perspective on this topic in the JEWSLETTER and this is the first instalment.


For thousands of years, societies have organised themselves not only to increase security and reliability in an uncertain environment, but also to strengthen cohesion and, in the best case, justice. In simple terms, one could say that the organisational forms of communities represent a kind of system of government. How governments are organised and how they achieve social goals is regulated very differently in different social systems and has been continuously developed and adapted over the centuries.


Of great importance here is who holds the decision-making power in a company and under what conditions. In addition, the conflict resolutions provided for in the social forms play an important role. The economic form or economic system is particularly important for a society because it says a lot about the underlying image of humanity. Economic and government systems do not necessarily have to follow the same laws.


Even with an average knowledge of history, it is possible to surmise that every political system has its advantages and disadvantages. The vast majority of systems therefore contain methods designed to emphasise the advantages and mitigate the disadvantages.


The comparative evaluation of different social and governmental systems is difficult, as the result depends heavily on the criteria applied. Such criteria can be, for example Prosperity, satisfaction, presence or absence of physical violence, level of education, freedom, immaterial prosperity, attachment to tradition and many more. In Germany, we live in a democracy (in combination with an economic system called a "social market economy"). This means that all power in our society emanates from the people, they are the so-called sovereign. The practical realisation of this power is achieved by appointing people responsible for specific tasks - the people's representatives. In almost all areas, this appointment takes place through general and free elections. The electoral principle thus enables us citizens to exercise our role as sovereigns - it is, so to speak, our way of governing and shaping society.


Passing on our concerns to representatives of the people (be they honorary or full-time politicians) is therefore the solution to the problem that the direct exercise of power by the sovereign is not practicable for large societies such as ours.


Meeting of citizens of Berlin, 1848
Meeting of citizens of Berlin, 1848

This method presupposes, among other things, that there is a general consensus about who is part of society and therefore a sovereign and who is not. Many states, communities, countries, peoples and nations have therefore established citizenship (or a similar status) as a criterion for the right to vote. However, it is easy to see that there are people who live in a society, participate in it and see their long-term future there without having citizenship of that society. In view of the fact that the electoral system is intended to organise real society, it is therefore only logical to consider how these people can be enabled to participate in politics. In this way, elections provide a society with as balanced and fair a reflection of its actual conditions as possible.


Anyone of us who has ever been involved in a democratic process has experienced that although the desired diversity of voices in a democracy can achieve its goals of equality and freedom, the process of getting there involves a great deal of effort and sometimes also trouble. In an ideal process, compromises have to be made on all sides and thus deviate from one's own goals. The resulting frustrations are exacerbated by the fact that in our democracy we attach great importance to avoiding too great a concentration of power in individual hands. To this end, we have installed a large number of counterparts (e.g. federal government - federal states or legislation - jurisdiction) who keep an eye on each other's actions and can intervene to balance things out if necessary. Our historical experience has taught us that, despite all the supposed advantages, it is too risky to place too much power in the hands of a few. This is one of the reasons why we repeatedly go to the trouble of compromise and understanding in order to achieve the overarching goals of our society. Such balancing measures are much less or not found in many other forms of government and this can give the impression of simplicity and efficiency, but if we do not lose sight of our important goals of freedom and equality, this impression quickly evaporates.


Weaknesses

One weakness of democratic systems is that, in the logic of democracy, democracy itself can be abolished by the sovereign or replaced by another system. Of course, earlier thinkers and their societies have already recognised this and proposed various solutions. In Germany, the term "liberal democratic basic order" was introduced for this purpose, which must not be abandoned even by democratic means. This means that there are also rules for the sovereign that are non-negotiable and are intended to ensure systemic stability without preventing progress and change per se. Although this is "only" a solution to a systemic problem - a kind of repair - it seems to be a clever concept and one that the majority of people in Germany have been able to accept to date. One of the reasons for this is that it naturally protects against the establishment of unjust and unfree social systems in every direction.


So when there are several elections in Saxony this year, we will all be exercising our right and moral obligation to be a good sovereign as a whole by casting our votes. The sometimes cynically used saying "Every people gets the government it deserves" is especially true and can have a positive effect if the largest possible percentage of all eligible voters make use of their right to vote.


Election form
Election form

Why now?

All of this gives us an idea of how important and meaningful voting is in and for a democracy. Even if we ourselves are only one 80 millionth of the sovereign, our vote is not unimportant or superfluous. These connections become particularly significant when socially explosive decisions are pending. And that is the case in these years! Many values and orientations of our society are being renegotiated, complaints about a split in society are circulating - some exaggerated, some justified - and we hear from many sides that the feeling of a (national) community is increasingly being lost. Fortunately, there are many ways in which each and every one of us can contribute to and influence this reorientation and reunification of society. The most important by far is the election, but democracy naturally also thrives on social discourse in the sense of publications in the press, comments, votes at school, work, clubs, family, involvement in the public or private sphere, discussions with family, friends, acquaintances and the general public on certain topics, attending information events and much more. None of this is just a private matter, but at the same time fulfils the tasks that we, as good sovereigns, have to fulfil individually and collectively. Of course, everyone has to vote according to their individual abilities, but voting is possible for almost everyone (in this context, it is also worth mentioning the mobile ballot boxes in hospitals and retirement homes. Postal voting and assisted voting for people with disabilities are also designed to minimise the barriers to voting).


Practical information

In Saxony, in addition to German citizens who have been registered in Saxony for at least three months, citizens of other EU states are also entitled to vote under certain conditions. The hurdles for local elections are usually lower than for state elections and lower than for federal elections. People who do not come from the EU are often not allowed to vote; exceptions must be checked against local laws (e.g. depending on residence status).


Our recommendation is to pay particular attention to information events on the election and election programmes in the coming months, to hold discussions, ask questions and attend cultural events in connection with the election. And above all, make the election your top priority on the election dates, because you must not be absent from the collective of the sovereign.

Comments


bottom of page