As we all know, politicians are not exactly the most popular public servants right now. Especially after the various decisions taken by them at all levels over the last three years.
So, telling the public in Wales that you now want to force people to vote at Senedd Elections in future seems to show an extraordinary tin ear to the current political mood here.
Particularly as that proposal has been made by a politician who has just been forced out by his own party.
You would think that Plaid’s Adam Price would be content to lie low on the backbenches for a while after his recent resignation, to allow new leader Rhun ap Iorwerth to settle in to his new leadership position.
But instead, he appears to have thrown the equivalent of a political hand grenade the way of his successor in the very act of leaving.
In announcing the mandatory voting idea in a BBC interview at the weekend, which has since gone down like a lead balloon amongst the public.
A spokesperson for Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party – said they were very aware of the need to increase public engagement with Welsh politics, but that compulsory voting was not the way to enhance the levels of engagement desired.
“We don’t think that forcing people to vote is a good idea at all, since that will not lead to the kind of goodwill towards the political process we need here in Wales” he said.
“Instead, it will just add to the resentment that people have towards politicians of all stripes – especially if people are going to be fined for not voting as well.”
He added that the proposed policy was quite authoritarian in tone and a further sign of Plaid’s drift towards authoritarianism of late.
“We remember of course that Plaid voted enthusiastically en-bloc for the vaccine passports here in 2021, which was a chilling example of state over-reach in people’s lives.”
“Now, they’re extending this “papers please” mentality to the process of voting itself, another sign of how top-down their whole thinking is by now.”
He said that politicians from all parties needed to think in much more creative ways, and take a new grass-roots approach to the business of encouraging people to take more of an
interest in Welsh politics.
“If we are going to take democracy seriously here, a serious amount of money needs to be set aside to develop the idea amongst all age groups” he said.
“Citizenship courses, initiatives and workshops should be promoted in all parts of Wales.”
“And how’s about trying to revive the idea of town hall meetings where issues of political and social importace can be discussed at a local level? Not just during election cycles but on a regular basis.”
He added that the existing Senedd parties and the three new parties, Gwlad, Propel and Sovereign Party could perhaps take part in an informal “Develop Welsh Democracy” campaign to boost the voting numbers over the next few years.
“All these parties could surely agree that having only 40% of the public usually voting in Senedd Elections is stifling Welsh democracy” he said.
“Maybe they could even agree on setting a target of getting over 50% and over voting in 2026 and aim towards getting that number up to 60% and over by 2030.”
“If they can make a real, positive case for more engagement amongst the public, that’s much more likely to get people’s ear than mandatory voting is likely to do.”
Increasing public interest in Welsh politics is not a quick fix of course and it will take time to build that interest up to a level which is comparable to other small European nations.
Hopefully, it will be another element altogether which will prove to be the main driver of this process, i.e the push for independence.
A state of affairs which will quite naturally draw more people to be actively engaged here.
And to take political life in Wales seriously at last.