Editorial – Who’s to blame for apathy?

Proportional representation was supposed to rescue the European elections from voter apathy, but as the results trickled in on Sunday it proved that PR had done anything but.

Similarly, changes to the English ICA’s syllabus were supposed to breathe new life into the institute and reflect the breadth of its qualification.

But the bitter battle and the defeat of the reformists – in a depressingly low turnout – mean these too have done nothing to help.

From Brussels and Westminster to Moorgate Place and the other institute HQs, apathy is rife. With the conference season upon us – it is CIPFA’s this week and the English ICA’s next week – this should worry everyone in the profession.

Just as ministers tried to claim that contentment with government policies had persuaded voters to stay at home, the institutes will try to argue that the fact that fewer and fewer accountants are standing up and being counted means the institutes are representing their members’ best interests adequately.

But that is not necessarily the case. Much of the blame for the current situation can be laid at the door of the institutes themselves. As this week’s Big Question demonstrates, accountants are becoming increasingly disillusioned with internal politics – note ACCA and the Gardiner debacle as well as the English ICA’s electives row – overshadowing the work institutes should be doing for their members. If that is not recognised, the current apathy could prove fatal.

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