Better Democracy NZ is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation.

Our mission is to foster the improvement of New Zealand's democratic system and encourage the use of direct democracy through the

Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.


Monday, 21 June 2010

A Political Love Affair

By Steve Baron.

Once upon a time I fell madly in love. She was the most gorgeous, intelligent and
successful woman I had ever met, she changed...

my life forever. Unfortunately she went back to the devil she knew rather than the devil she didn't. Obviously she wasn't happy in her previous relationship, just as many voters aren't always happy with the previous government. Like this woman, we get tired of being dominated, controlled, manipulated, threatened and cheated on, so we flirt with something else to fill that empty chasm. In New Zealand politics there have been numerous third parties like Social Credit and New Zealand First. These flirtations have all come and gone but ultimately we keep returning to one of the two major parties. We keep going back for more punishment election after election. Every election they beg and plead with us and always promise to change their ways... but they rarely do. Alas, even though we know we can't really trust them anymore and our love for them is not the same it once was, we give them yet another chance. Our
memories are very short. Over the years parliament has become a den of iniquity, full of broken election promises, ignored referendums, abuse of taxpayer money, fraud, racism, physical violence and arrogance. Just like some marriages I guess. Falling voter turnout only goes to prove the lack of trust New Zealanders have in their political system and their politicians. We complain, moan and groan but mostly we grin and bear it. Will we ever move on from this or are we destined to keep repeating history ad infinitum? What can we do about it anyway, this is our lot and we just have to accept it don't we? Well no we don't. We need to be prepared to make a stand, take back the control we have abdicated, become more aware, and more outspoken. We must become as some academics have referred to as the gladiators of society. The politically active and motivated who are not prepared to let politicians do all the thinking for them. For me, I've moved on, I no longer have a blind faith for any one political party. They all have their good and bad points. I
want more say on issues that can profoundly affect my life. I haven't given up on love, or politics. I will continue to comment, provoke and suggest new ideas, but I will refuse to vote any longer (as do twenty percent of the population). Some will argue that if I'm not prepared to vote then I can't complain. However, like workers who can withhold their labour when they are being unjustly treated, I can withhold my vote. Just like in a marriage, sexual favors can be withheld, so sorry, not tonight, not even next election my dear politicians, I have a headache.


This article first appeared in the Cambridge News 18/01/2010



ALCP said...

It is my understanding that if you don't vote then you supportting the party/parties already in power.


022 602 9226

Dominic Baron said...

What you say finds heartfelt echoes in my political "love-life"!
The solution can be complete promiscuity, but that involves moving from party to party. Perhaps we need to organise elections on a different basis, an "a la carte" approach instead of the set menus we currently get.
Suppose the political parties were all required to list their top ten policies in order of priority and then we voters would simply tick those policies we liked, Count up all the ticks and the ten policies that got the most ticks would *have* to be implemented by whatever combination of parties ended up in government...

Well, it's a thought! Heh! Heh!

Steve Baron said...

As more and more people refuse to vote, the mandate of current incumbents becomes weaker. Just as the country would find it hard to operate if 20% of the population refused to work and withheld their labour. As for Dominic's suggestion... there is nothing wrong with giving a political party a mandate to implement a general range of policies, but what can we do when they go too far or propose policies the majority do not agree with? The only answer I can see is binding referendums as a check and balance on government. Having a second chamber in parliament is another option but one that hasn't proved successful in the past.

Anonymous said...

Although MMP has its failings (unelected list candidates being the main one) it is still a hell of a lot better than that totally ridiculous first past the post BS that the incumbents used for so long! Please don't let them muddy the waters again, Stand up for MMP!