Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Previous Section   276. THE RIGHT OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE   Next Section

The Right of Universal Suffrage.  The people has not granted itself universal suffrage but, wherever this is now in force, it has received and accepted it as a temporary measure.  But in any case the people has the right to restore the gift, if it does not satisfy its anticipations.  This dissatisfaction seems universal nowadays, for when, at any occasion where the vote is exercised, scarce two thirds, nay perhaps not even the majority of all voters, go to the polls, that very fact is a vote against the whole suffrage system.  On this point, in fact, we must pronounce a much sterner verdict.  A law that enacts that the majority shall decide as to the welfare of all cannot be built up on the foundation that it alone has provided, for it is bound to require a far broader foundation, namely the unanimity of all.  Universal suffrage must not only be the expression of the will of a majority, but of the whole country.  Thus the dissent of a very small minority is already enough to set aside the system as impracticable; and the abstention from voting is in fact a dissent of this kind, which ruins the whole institution.  The "absolute veto" of the individual, or — not to be too minute — the veto of a few thousands, hangs over the system as the consequence of justice.  On every occasion when it is employed, the system must, according to the variety of the division, first prove that it has still a right to exist.  

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