Eclectic Curiosity

Single-Issue Politicians

Posted on April 4th, 2006, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

In a radio interview on CBC’s The Current yesterday, guest Paul Miller of London-based independent think tank Demos raised an interesting point with regards to yet another poll ranking politicians at the bottom of the well-respected list.

He observed that in the UK, Canada and indeed many places worldwide, there are an increasing number of single-issue politicians being elected. Why? Well, because general politics is too tough, too complex – not just for the politicians themselves but for the voters as well. It is much easier to focus one’s energies, knowledge and passion on only a handful of issues; in particular those limited range of issues that the majority of the electorate can grasp and cares enough about. Perhaps that’s always been the case to some extent but it has grown more pronounced in recent years and the facade of the well-rounded statesman appears to have lost its allure.

Single-issue politicians, Miller said, are very destabilizing to government because they make it more difficult to have a solid and balanced debate around the issues, including unglamorous or seemingly insignificant yet important ones. Taken further, too many politicians (or whole parties) gathered around the same few issues makes a government particularly counter-productive (the big picture, after all) and even dangerous. On the other hand, numerous varied single-issue politicians or independents can bring with them an exciting and passionate charge of diversity. But often they don’t get elected in large enough numbers for that to happen.

To listen to the interview, see Part 3 here.

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