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Does How You Vote Matter?

Global opinions on the nuts and bolts of democracy.

By Angus Reid 20 Jun 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Trendwatch runs periodically in The Tyee.

While Americans are well into another seemingly endless season of presidential primaries, Canadians, or at least Canadian political geeks, are absorbed by politics of a less elected sort. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on a quest to incrementally reform Canada's Upper House. But his task is far from simple. Already, Harper's House Leader Peter Van Loan has accused the Liberal dominated senate of engineering a constitutional crisis by pointing out that the reforms may not themselves be constitutional. Meanwhile, former Vancouver mayor and current Liberal senator Larry Campbell recently went public with claims that the reforms themselves will short change B.C.

Now seems to be one of those brief moments when how we elect steals some notice from the more popular question of who we elect. So how does the rest of the world feel about the way their leaders get picked? Here's a summary of some worldwide opinions.

In the Czech Republic, where head of state Vaclav Klaus has come under fire for his views on climate change and the European Union (EU), 60 per cent of respondents want to elect their president directly. To find out more, click here.

In Israel, where President Moshe Katzav was recently suspended over allegations of sexual harassment, 75 per cent of respondents want to vote for their head of state. The Knesset elected Shimon Peres earlier this month. To find out more, click here.

In Turkey, the nomination of Abdullah Gul, a member of a religious party, for president provoked widespread protests in the officially secular state. Last year, 76 per cent of Turks said the country's head of state should be chosen by the people and not by the Great National Assembly. To find out more click here.

In Germany, few are troubled by their unelected federal president. 73 per cent of respondents saying the head of state should remain in place. To find our more, click here.

In Britain, 56 per cent of respondents want the now appointed House of Lords largely or wholly elected by the general public. To find out more click here.

In Thailand, where a military junta has ruled since September, 47 per cent of respondents want a general election held this year, as promised by the interim administration. To find out more, click here.

In Russia, where votes for a new State Duma (December) and president (2008) loom, only 26 per cent of respondents think their parliamentary elections have been free and fair in the past 15 years. To find out more, click here.

In Switzerland, where the Canton of Glarus allows 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, 53.1 per cent of respondents reject making the practice national. To find out more, click here.

In Indonesia, which held its first presidential election in 2004, 65 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the state of their democracy. To find out more, click here.

In Hong Kong, 10 years after the handover from British rule, 55.5 per cent of respondents think the island's inhabitants are ready for universal suffrage. To find out more, click here.

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