This brought back memories for me

This was on the wall of my teaching room last week. An original ballot slip from the first democratic election in South Africa, which took place in April 1994.

This brought back so many memories for me. It signified the final fall of Apartheid, and was the first and only time I ever voted in a South African election. I was 33 at the time. I had never voted before this because, to me, there was no point in voting in a non-democratic election where none of the parties were advocating the fall of apartheid.

Prior to this, I did vote in the referendum where all white South Africans voted about ending apartheid. The voter turnout was very high in this referendum, and 68% of people voted to end apartheid. This was the first time I had ever voted.

This was the stamp you received in your internal passports when you voted.

Two years after the referendum I voted in the first democratic South African General Election. When the next general election came around in 1998, I was no longer living in South Africa, and citizens abroad were not allowed to vote. By the time this was changed, allowing foreign citizens to vote, I felt it was wrong to vote in a country where I would never again live. And now I am not a citizen anymore.

Next Sunday is Election Day in Sweden. Local, regional and national elections take place on the same day here, every four years. My first vote in a national election in Sweden was 2014, but I have voted in the municipal and regional elections since 2002. I am from a country where people fought and died for the right to vote democratically, so I have voted whenever I am able. I still would not vote in an undemocratic election though, unless I could help overthrow the system by means of that vote. And that is usually highly unlikely.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. I retain my right to vote in UK General Elections, and any Referendums that are held. But now UK has left the EU I’m no longer permitted to vote in MEP or Local Elections here in France.

  2. This is so interesting and what a momentous event this election must have been. I think it’s very hard for us, Europeans to really grasp how important that was.

    Regarding elections, I feel the same way you do. I am both a French and Spanish citizen and I can vote for all elections that take place in both countries. But I do currently live in Germany and I’m only allowed to vote for municipal and European elections. I wish I could vote in the national elections in Germany because I have been living here for almost 17 years. What happens in France or Spain has got no impact on my daily German life… If I wanted to be able to vote in Germany, I would need to become German, but adopting a nationality is so much more than the right to vote. I have to say that I honestly don’t feel German at heart…

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