Voting this autumn

A recent study for the Cato Institute, When Ignorance Isn′t Bliss, is making a deep analysis of the Americans voting habits. Surprisingly as it may seem, things are not so far away from the ones we see here in Romania.

The study finds the voters abysmally ignorant of even very basic political information. The statistics are backing up the theory:

In 1996, The Washington Post reported that 67 percent of Americans couldn’t name their congressman and 94 percent had no idea that William Rehnquist was the chief justice of the United States. Only 26 percent knew that senators serve six-year terms

Gallup found in January 2000 that while 66 percent of the public could name the host of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” only 6 percent knew the name of the speaker of the House. Last year, a Polling Company survey found that 58 percent of Americans could not name a single federal Cabinet department.

Also what is more alarming, is that the tens of millions of non-voting adults are the tens of millions of adults who do vote despite knowing next to nothing about the candidates and the issues.

You can come to see pretty much the same patterns and habits in Romania if you read the Public Opinion Barometer or The Romanian Public Opinion Before Campaign released by Gallup earlier this month. As these studies find 70% of Romanians consider that Romania needs a change in this year elections, 67% of them are completely or dissatisfied enough by the Government performance or 53% don′t know a name of a parliament member elected in their county, yet more than 30% of them consider the actual political party in power as the most trustable and more than 40% of them will go and vote for them.

As for more reading material here are the links to both materials:

Public Opinion Barometer (545Kb, PDF file, Romanian only)

When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy (337Kb, PDF file)

Also as further reading here are the political programes of the two major competitors in this autumn Romanian elections: Social Democrat Party and DA Alliance (Romanian only)

UPDATE: For romanian readers only, Dilema Veche and just released a comprehensive study of the two political programmes, mentioned above, Who am I voting for?

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