Hi, I am a lecturer in economics at the University of Leicester. I did my studies in Turkey and France, and I was teaching at a German university before moving to the UK. Among other things, I do research on how well we, as citizens, manage to hold our politicians accountable. I use mathematics to do my research and I also teach mathematics for students who study economics.
Why are under 18s not allowed to vote? Do you think they should do?
comfortable_flute, Lyons Hall Primary School D
As a society, we believe that voters should have an adequate understanding of the political system, and how each political party wants to solve the country’s problems. I am sure that there are some young people who are better informed than older people who can vote. However, these cases are probably more exceptions than the norm, and we need to decide as a society on an age limit. Personally, I believe that changing the age limit to 16 would be a worthwhile discussion, which is something that has also been discussed around the world. Also, some people argue that since people younger than 18 rarely work or pay taxes, they should not be allowed to vote, but I do not agree with this opinion.
Do you have to have access to private education to be an MP? If so, then why?
memorable_orchard, Michael Faraday School
Dear memorable_orchard, you certainly do not need to have a private education to be an MP. A good education is desirable for an MP, since they need to deal with complicated issues on a daily basis. But a good education does not need to be private. Moreover, if we had such a requirement, that would be unfair to people who cannot afford or who prefer to have an education in state schools. That would be a waste of talent as well since many smart, educated and talented people would have been unable to become MPs.
Why does the public need Prime Ministers, MPs and Parliament?
trustworthy_robin, Hillyfield Primary Academy
That is a question of great depth, trustworthy_robin. Philosophers have been thinking about this question for centuries! We basically need laws and the rule of law to live peacefully in a society where everybody’s human rights are respected and protected. To enforce these laws and to spend our budget in a planned way, we need a government and a prime minister to run the government. And since the world we live in and our needs change, we need to change or update the laws. That’s why we need MPs and a Parliament. There are other reasons too for which we need a government and a parliament. Imagine we need to build new roads or repair the damaged ones. If we did not have a government, since we are millions of people, we would have a tough time to organise our budget, to make sure everybody plays their part, and to hire the workers. All these require discussion and organisation, and it is much easier to do this with hundreds of MPs rather than millions of citizens! So it makes sense to choose representatives (MPs) to discuss and organise these issues for us.
That is a question of great depth, trustworthy _robin. Philosophers have been thinking about this question for centuries....since the world we live in and our needs change, we need to change or update the laws. That’s why we need MPs and a Parliament.Emre Aytimur
What do Prime Ministers do other than give orders to people? How important is communication for them?
honorable_date, Halsnead Primary School
I assume that prime ministers spend much of their time giving orders! But in order to give orders, you need to make decisions about many different topics. Of course, when a PM needs to make decisions, they get advice from experts, ministers, etc. So I would say that the main task of a PM is to design a general vision for the government and coordinate ministers and other government agencies to make sure they achieve the determined goals. Another very important task is to communicate with the general public so that they know the objectives and actions of the government and they can judge for themselves if the government does a good job or not. So communication is indeed very important. If you are a PM and do not communicate well with your ministers, they are less likely to achieve their goals. And if you are a PM and do not communicate well with the general public, they may lose trust in government, which means you are more likely to lose the next elections!
Why do we only vote after 4 years? Do you think it should be more or less often?
tidy_mouse, Upton Cross Primary School A
This is a difficult question, tidy_mouse! We want the government to be accountable. In other words, if we think the government does not do a good job, we want to be able to elect another government. Because of this, it looks like the more often we hold elections, the better. On the other hand, the problems the governments need to address are big so the government needs time to solve the problems. If we change the governments too often, problems may be left unresolved. Moreover, each government may have a different vision for the country and should be given sufficient time to try to execute what it promised before the elections. From this perspective, it is clear that we should not have elections too often. So we need to balance these opposing arguments and 4 years seem fair to me.
the problems the governments need to address are big so the government needs time to solve the problems. If we change the governments too often, problems may be left unresolved.Emre Aytimur
What do you think of Emre's responses?
- Do you think we should vote every 4-5 years, or more or less often?
- Much of government is made up of politicians with a private education - should this change, and if so, how should the change happen?
- Should only those who work and pay taxes be able to vote? Emre doesn't think so - do you agree?