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General Election 2015: Every vote matters - as a responsibility of citizenship

For all the campaign’s frustrations, and the unavoidable feeling that our political system is broken, democracy is always messy and no system is perfect

Saturday 02 May 2015 23:43 BST

The Independent on Sunday is not like other newspapers. We hope that our writing is better, our reporting more balanced and that the whole package is better edited. Those are for you to judge, of course, but there is one way in which we are indisputably different: which is that we are not suggesting how you should vote on Thursday.

While our rivals have reverted to their ideological bunkers, we have sought to stay true to our name. This does not mean that we are a bloodless, value-free news-sheet. We have always been committed to social justice, protection of the environment and international co-operation. But we recognise that you can make up your own mind about whether you agree with us or not and, if you do, about which parties would give those values best expression in government.

That is why we are the only newspaper today to carry appeals by the leaders of all three main parties. David Cameron and Ed Miliband have written articles, while our political editor has interviewed Nick Clegg.

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Nor will we advise you how to make your decision, if you have not already decided. But we would urge you to make one. Every vote matters, not because it is likely, on its own, to change a result, but as a responsibility of common citizenship. We know from our reader research that 98 per cent of you say you intend to vote, and that 96 per cent are “very” or “fairly sure” how you will vote. So you have probably already weighed the balance between policies and personalities. Policies are plainly more important in the abstract, but the best policies will make no difference unless political leaders have the will and the ability to implement them.

In many ways, we share the view of 47 per cent of the British voters who tell ComRes in our opinion poll today that the election campaign has made them feel more negative about the future. It has been a stage-managed campaign of spin, slogans and difference-splitting, designed to get one or other of the two largest parties just over the line, with the help of associated flotillas of smaller parties.

But, as an optimistic newspaper, we prefer to look on the bright side with the 33 per cent who feel positive about the future. For all the campaign’s frustrations, and the unavoidable feeling that our political system is broken, democracy is always messy and no system is perfect. More voices have been heard than in most previous campaigns. Real issues have cut through. Even Russell Brand managed to get some of the debate over to his anti-political followers.

And we have seen sides of the leaders that we have not seen before. Mr Miliband has turned out to be a more substantial politician than his detractors allowed, and there should be no question about his ability to discharge the office of prime minister. Equally, Mr Cameron has been less sure-footed than many people will have expected. His spraying around of unfunded pledges has been a surprise. But, despite this newspaper’s values appearing to point towards some parties rather than others, we should note that Mr Cameron in his article has sought to address himself to those issues of most concern to our readers – as we know from our surveys.

Now it is up to you.

Thursday may not, of course, be the end of the democratic process. Our politics seems to have entered a new world in which the post-election negotiations are as important as the pre-election campaigning. Our view is that the coalition was too rushed last time, and that if there are to be multi-party negotiations, they should take time, they should be transparent and the people should feel that they reflect how they voted rather than being stitched up behind closed doors. To be continued next week ...

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