How Brexit ultimately points out the fatal flaws of first-past-the-post

Britain, and maybe all of Europe, is in shock. The people have decided. Democracy at work. Disappointment on the part of the Remain voters is understandable. They turn to demographics to vent and to petitions to soften the blow. But Leave voters? Really??!

The bubble burst early when the pound plummeted and people watched their pension funds crumble. This, at least, proved those wrong who thought nothing was going to change anyways. Way more shocking and puzzling, for many of those who are not Britons themselves, is the fact that there is a potent call for a second referendum and frequent reports of Leave voters voicing their regret and ignorance.

To some extent, this can be credited to the media and its dedication to tell customers what they want to hear. Of course the metropolitan readers jump onto the idea of the ‘ignorant, old and rural’ masses coming to their senses, cling onto the hope that maybe this is just a temporary nightmare. A second referendum, of course, is absurd. That is precisely NOT how democracy works. You cannot simply hold referendum after referendum until everyone agrees and lives happily ever after. Changing rules about voter participation and then applying them on a past decision is also out of the question.

“I thought we were going to stay anyway, otherwise I would have never voted leave”, this seems to be the common argument of those going back on their already cast and counted vote. Ignorance is the motive for such a choice that comes to mind first and seems plausible. The fact that many of those picked by journalists to say such things on the record seem to think that the UK has already left the EU supports this. It is more though. Especially English voters (as opposed to, e.g. Scottish ones) are simply not used to their vote making too much of a difference in who ‘wins’, courtesy of their lovely voting system: First-past-the-post, where only the candidate with the absolute majority troops off to Westminster.

When you think about it the way people vote (or rather, the way their vote counts and takes effect) might have had more long term effects as well that play a role in this decision. All those ‘old, rural, English racists’ have been voting and supporting UKIP for years. 12.5% of the entire electorate voted UKIP during the general election in 2015. That is 1 in every 8 voters. And how many UKIP MPs are there? One. One out of 345. Does’t add up, does it? No wonder people are a little bit disillusioned by the establishment of mainstream politics. I doubt these people cared particularly whether the EU has a democratic deficit, seeing as their own democracy does not seem to help them make their voices heard.

Well, those votes, may they be ones of anger, confusion or ignorance, have been cast. Democracy in the end is the right of the people to make stupid decisions (and funnily enough, most people seem to agree now that it is indeed one).

While proportional representation certainly has its flaws, maybe it would have saved us from a Brexit in the long term… But oh well! Britain, we still love you. All the best and good luck (you’ll need it, by the looks of it)!

B x

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Prosecco, Coughing and the Juno Soundtrack

People, why isn’t it Throwback Tuesdays?? I, for once, mostly get nostalgic on a Tuesday. And, funkily, I don’t seem to be alone with this sentiment. Part of that is remembering that I have a blog.

Basically, it started off as as an attempt to study with my coffee and wine buddy, Charlotta. Clearly this was going to be a focused and sober enterprise. But what can you ACTUALLY do if there’s prosecco in the fridge, right? So here we are.

Charlotta is struggling with her essay writing and I’m struggling with actually saying anything substantial here – the unanimous solution: bullet points.

  • The indie phase I had when I was around 15 was actually really really fun.
  • The Juno soundtrack never gets old.
  • I need the loo, give me a second.
  • Back.
  • Maybe this (annoyingly persistent and painful) cough is finally going to put me off smoking.
  • Probably not.

Oh, yeah, and I’m finally doing something with my life (something that allows me to apply my excellent procrastination skills) – uni in Scotland!!

B x

Europe, Grexit And A Lot Of Frustration

Politics in general frustrate me frequently. Especially when it comes to questions that touch on ethics my head soon starts spinning with all the different aspects and factors and the contradictory and compromising nature of actual policies. This means that I rarely ever have a clear, decided opinion on these matters.

Still, I worry a lot. At the moment, for example, I worry for Europe. I can’t speak for my nation or my generation or anyone else than myself, really, but having all this separatist nationalism in a globalised world like today’s seems childish. And I, for once, feel as a European before I feel German or British or anything at all.

And of course, on a lot of European issues I don’t have a clear stand. I don’t really care for the Euro that much. It’s quite convenient, but that’s about it for me. And I hate to see all the UKIP propaganda, but at the same time I do see their point to some extent: After all, Denmark got special treatment, why not them?

What I am most afraid of is that we lose our sense of Europe over all these details. Europe is so much more than the European Union. We’re a community. It’s one of the great things about being European and living here that we have our diversity, but the most important thing is that we share our diversity with each other.

And sometimes, governments are simply not fair to their people. Set aside dictatorships, genocides and all the more grave crimes, even democracy can be cruel. Tomorrow, millions of Greek people will cast their vote: they have the simple choice between ne (yes) and oxi (no). They know it has something to do with the European Union and their financial situation. But that’s about it. How mean is that? People are given so much responsibility, which in theory, might be a very democratic thing. But how can you take on this responsibility as a citizen and make an educated decision if you have no idea about what?!

It’s a complete guessing game. Are they deciding whether to comply with their creditor’s demands? Are they deciding whether or not to keep the Euro or not? Or is it even a decision about whether or not to stay in the EU? They have no way of knowing and the politicians, who all support either the yes or no-campaign, interpret this referendum the way it suits them. They give different accounts of what the consequences for the possible outcomes are. The only way for Greek people to find out what ne and oxi really mean in this context is to tick any one of them at random and see what happens.

It is just plain mean. And irresponsible. The politicians, whose job it is to make decisions like that (that’s why we elected them, and really, that’s how democracy works), and who have all the background information that is needed to make sound decisions, are cowards. And the best things is, whatever becomes of this referendum and whatever consequences this might have, the politicians have all saved their asses, because, after all, the people decided and brought it unto themselves, right?!

(soz for all the anger, it just piles up… DAMN POLITICIANS!!)

B x

Summertime

Dear friends,

it’s been a while. Blogging is like writing a diary, I’ve learned at last: When you are in the midst of experiencing those things worth writing about, there is simply no time to write. I’ve had those kind of eventful times, so I guess not blogging is a good thing after all.

Anyway, I would want to share some things with you (right now I have a few days of idleness to spare): MUSIC.

I cannot stop being impressed by the wealth of amazing music that already exists in this world and it overwhelms me even more to stumble upon all the tunes that have only just been in the making. Here are my top three albums of the moment:

  1. TOVE STYRKE – Kiddo Like her EP (and the song Borderline, which I am somehow still obsessed with), this album is full of brilliance. Surely the songs are not complex, but as far as danceble, upbeat, fun music goes, this is pure gold. This is my favourite at the moment:
  2. VILLAGERS – Darling Arithmetic Very very different from the catchy sounds of Tove, but equally mesmerizing: These people manage to go deep without quite touching on the profound, which I value in music. My favourite continues to be ‘Courage‘, here’s a live version:
  3. COURTNEY BARNETT – sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit This quirky lady to me is the 2015 equivalent of Patti Smith. She is sassy and poetic but doesn’t fail to touch onto the everyday feels we all know. Here’s a taste (it’s quite a slow one, this one, don’t be fooled):

Enjoy the music! Hope you like it

B x

A Chronicle of Nothing, Really

It has been exactly a month since I last posted on this blog. Long time no see, folks.

So what has been happening… Not too much actually. The usual every day jazz. I might be having a very mellow quarter life crisis (usually people pin this to your mid-twenties, but I think that might be a bit too optimistic – how many of us are actually going to live to be a hundred or older?!). I only noticed this because the other night I just wouldn’t fall asleep. This is a first. I can always sleep, I sleep way too much, it is the only thing I’m truly and reliably good at! Something’s up, but I’m not entirely sure what exactly it is. Maybe it is a mosaic of lots of tiny little factors.

So I’ve just finished watching the last season of Gilmore Girls in its entirety – following the tried and tested Gilmore Girls Therapy (courtesy of me, myself and I) and I’ve recently been reading an astounding amount of self-help literature, although I’m not sure whether this isn’t more of a symptom than a remedy (I can warmly recommend Katie Couric’s “Best Advice I Ever Got”).

Things must be getting better though – I’m making lists again and I’ve put my iPod on shuffle (always a bold move…). I’ve missed blogging, and although I’m not sure why exactly I’ve stopped, this shall be a new era – it’ll be just like the British election results: same crap as before with a little extra shit on top. Enjoy!

B x

It Took A Little Time To Get Free

Once again, I am obsessed with a song. Believe me, it is such a good song. Once again, I struggle to find the words to describe what is so special. Maybe this is because this song doesn’t really make me think, it makes me feel. It makes me feel old and wise but at the same time also young and alive. God, that sounds cheesy.

Not many musicians have the ability to make one feel extremely melancholy yet at the same time inexplicably optimistic. Angus and Julia Stone manage to do it sometimes, but not always. This paradox is the sensation that makes Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ so timeless and beautiful. These gems are dotted across the musical landscape, across nations and cultures. In Germany we have the Scorpions’ ‘Wind of Change’, the Danish can offer John Mogensen’s ‘Så Længe Jeg Lever’.

Now the Irish have championed their anthem. The fact that the band Villagers around Conor O’Brien is awesome is old news, really. They’ve had two spectacular albums and their third one, Darling Arithmetic (already available on Spotify; release date Europe is the 13th of this month, US the 14th), will not break the streak.

Personally, I have already added ‘Courage’ to my list of songs for a lifetime.

Mandatory Reading: A Family History

My grandpa, who turned 90 this year, used to have a habit of reading all of the books on the “Spiegel Bestsellerliste”, which is the German equivalent of the New York Times Best Seller List. “Spiegel” is a weekly current affairs magazine, which means the lists (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) got updated weekly.

Sometimes, this led to some interesting pairings between my conservative, elderly grandpa and the book he was reading: I still remember how appalled he was about Charlotte Roche’s ‘Wetlands’ (which was on top of the list for weeks on end) and how amused I was when I saw it on his shelf.

On the other hand, however, I am still impressed by his ability to be so open as to give everything a chance, even ‘Wetlands’. I admire this and I have been thinking for a while about a way in which I, too,could widen my scope in terms of reading material and I think I have found it. Not so long ago I found out that Amitav Ghosh was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2015. I simply adore that man. The original Man Booker is not new to me either and many of my favourite authors were short or longlisted for it at some point.

So, here we go: From now on I shall read a work from every author

  • on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize (6 books a year)
  • on the list of finalists for the Man Booker International Prize (10 authors every 2 years)

This way, I will stay on top of what’s hot in the literary world in a manageable way (6 to 16 books a year can’t be that hard, especially considering that I might also have read some of the authors before).

Of course, as I have only just vowed not to read any books that aren’t to my liking, I don’t have to read books I really don’t want to read (after all, my grandpa never finished ‘Wetlands’), which generally includes any kind of crime fiction.

Wish me luck (please, don’t let this become yet another empty promise to myself)!

B x