"Why should I Vote in Election"? - Political Participation and Citizenship Education

Mr Jiro Hasumi (Faculty of Education)

Saturday, 03 December, 2005; 7:30-9:30pm

Seminar room, No1. Newnham Terrace, Darwin College

People's opinions inevitably vary in our value-pluralistic society on issues in relation to politics; but there seems to be a consensus reached at least in the educational context. That is the importance of voting.
Electoral participation is, in fact, highly valued in almost all Japanese Civics (Social Studies) textbooks. In England, the National Curriculum of Citizenship Education, a statutory subject in secondary school, expressly emphasises the significance of 'playing an active part' in an electoral process. It, prima facie, seems as if electoral participation is regarded as of unquestionable worth. Here arise questions which we need to address to evaluate its desirability: 'why ought citizens to vote in election?', 'Is high voter turnout ipso facto desirable?', and 'why should school give such particular emphasis to the active involvement in election?' To answer these questions from the politically apathetic people's point of view may offer some useful lessons, for, in reality, one third of electorates do not vote. In this paper, by examining these problems, some points will be elucidated of which teachers and policy makers should not be oblivious in relation to the teaching of the virtue of electoral participation in citizenship education.