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Should everyone be forced to vote?

From beach to ballot box: an Australian about to vote in 2019. David Gray/Bloomberg/Getty

Britain is getting older, says Charlie Peters in The Critic, and old people are more likely to vote than the young. That’s why our politics has become so stagnant: anything that might spur economic growth and help the young, like housebuilding, is opposed by well-off pensioners who are more interested in the price of their house going up. Taxes on workers are rising but cuts to pensions are nowhere to be seen. Unsurprisingly, record numbers of people are now planning to emigrate as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

One of the top destinations for this exodus – Australia – may hold the secret to how to reform Britain. Australia has mandatory voting: you get a $20 fine if you don’t cast your ballot in elections. In the last nationwide election, turnout was 92%. With young people forced to vote, Aussie politicians have to woo them with policies that boost long-term growth. It seems to be helping: Australia’s GDP per head is more than $10,000 higher than Britain’s; its economy is projected to grow 4.1% this year, while we’re facing a recession. Enforced voting in the UK could help fix the “gross imbalance” between old and young, and stop an entire generation “losing hope in establishing a prosperous life in Britain”.