Blog post: Give your vote and help global accountability | World Development Movement

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Blog post: Give your vote and help global accountability

By Guest, 7 April 2010

May Abdalla

As Gordon Brown makes his visit to Her Majesty to call a UK election, there is a parallel campaign unfolding in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana.

While we have TV debates over tax, school budgets and prison reforms, people on the streets of Kabul, Dhaka and Accra will be discussing the policies of Brown, Cameron and Clegg with respect to climate change, development, trade and war. Thousands of people directly affected by UK policies will be using votes donated by UK citizens to be part of the process deciding their futures before casting a vote in the May 6 election.

I’m part of a team of volunteers working across four countries rewiring this election to give democracy a place in our global world.

Democracy means a lot more than a vote. Democracy means that we - the people - are the ultimate leaders in our political system. Politicians are accountable to us, and we are part of the decisions that affect our lives.

Nowhere is democracy more absent than at the international level. There is no democracy when deciding issues of climate change, trade or war.

Ghana is one of Africa’s most celebrated democracies and the first to achieve independence in 1953. In Ghana the rice staple is American, local water is sold through a Dutch company, and cheap EU tomatoes undercut local fresh produce. In 2005, the Ghanaian government’s own attempt to protect local industry following pressure from farmers was quickly nipped in the bud by the IMF. A vote in the national election is not enough to give Ghanaian control over the issues that affect them. While in the IMF a Ghanaian vote is almost inconsequential - the G8 holds 49% of the votes, and the US effectively carries a veto.

What do Ghanaians know about UK politics to be able to cast a vote? For Ghanaians its immediately apparent how the UK government affects them, whether it's through cases such as the controversial sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone last year, the presence of British mining companies which are destroying local habitat or the urgent decisions that must be made by the major polluting countries to combat climate change.

Kwabene who will be voting from Tema told me “I do not find it at all strange to be voting in the UK election. The British were in my country for many years. And even after independence their presence remains strong. For me voting in the UK election is an easy thing – it is like visiting a cousin.”

As UK voters, Give Your Vote is also about taking back control. Even after a £500bn bailout, we cannot cut bankers bonuses for fear that they’ll move elsewhere. In a world of national democracies, international capital is running unregulated serving the interests of their largest shareholders. We can only take back control of global economy by making international institutions democratic entities that are accountable to the people they are meant to serve.

As the world’s people we are facing our future together – we have a global economy, one shared ecology and together are living the repercussions of an attack in New York and bombs in Baghdad. We must not continue to leave this future to a room of men wearing name badges.

By hacking into the election and rewiring the way it works we’re bringing those who are affected by UK politics to those who decide them.

Give Your Vote is run by volunteers using mobile phones, laptops, open-source software and the will around the world to see it happen. People in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana can vote by text message which will then be sent to the British citizens who are pledging on giveyourvote.org to represent them on election day. This is an action that does not require lobbying for a democratic UN or relying on fair-minded politicians to set the agenda. It’s an action by a global people who are taking part in politics together as equals and acting now for a democratic world. Join us.

www.giveyourvote.org

May Abdalla is a volunteer with Give Your Vote. Guest posts are written by people outside of WDM and do not necessarily represent WDM's official views.

Blog post: Give your vote and help global accountability |

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