Tagged: democracy

[Daily Blog reposts] Binning the MMP review: is it just kneejerk antidemocratism?

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 16 May 2013.

So, the National-led government is basically canning the huge amount of work and Sacred Taxpayer Dollars which went into the review of our electoral system – because, as aptly demonstrated by Holly Walker of the Greens and Lianne Dalziel of Labour, they don’t like it.

What don’t they like?  The common assumption is that it’s about the recommendations to eliminate lifeboating – i.e. Peter Dunne winning Ohariu again and dragging in a bunch of fundies with him – and to balance that out by reducing the party vote threshold to 4%.

What I don’t get is why.

I mean, Walker is going with the (very strong) line that it’s because National are reliant on Banks and Dunne, who both probably have delusions of one day regaining extra seats in the House.

I am no political scientist, nor do I have access to the magical beast which is internal party polling, but this makes little sense to me.  Does anyone see Banksy keeping hold of Epsom? Does anyone see the electorate swinging behind United Future again, after the hilarious debacles which have always ensued – and always get recited whenever Dunne seems to be courting the Reasonable Middle Ground demographic?

On current polling, of the minor parties, only NZ First has a shot of returning to Parliament, and that’s assuming Richard Prosser can keep his mouth shut until the election (I don’t include the Greens as a minor party these days).  The Conservatives are on 1.5%.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense for the Right to just euthanise ACT, drop the threshold, and hope that Colin can pull in enough votes to get over the line?  Who knows how many hard-blue Nat voters would strategically jump ship to ensure their party wasn’t dependent on Winston?  And to those voters, getting from 1.5 to 4 looks a hell of a lot easier that 1.5 to 5.

Are the Nats just that stuck in an antidemocratic, anti-MMP mindset?  Do they still harbour dreams of ruling alone, even though it’s probably impossible in general and much less so when you’re going for a third term and the wheels are starting to come off the wagon?

This post is almost entirely made up of questions to which I have no answers, but I’m genuinely puzzled.  Spin me your theories in the comments.

And yet, still no sign of the Herald’s DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK banner …

You might think the legal/policy arrangements around reimbursing carers of adults with disabilities would be a bit of a minority issue which the vast majority of New Zealanders don’t have to worry about, due to their able-bodied privilege.

But you’d be wrong, because right now that issue is the site for the National government’s most egregious shitting-upon of basic concepts of justice.

Take it away, Andrew Geddis.

What’s a good way, you might ask, to create a policy on paying family caregivers without running the risk of it being overturned? And the answer I assume you’d give is “make sure that the policy isn’t unlawfully discriminatory, so there is no reason for this to happen.” If so, you are an idiot. Because there’s a far, far better way to respond.

You simply tell the Human Rights Review Tribunal and the courts that they are not allowed to look at the policy and decide whether or not it is unlawfully discriminatory.

I’d just like to end with a little thought experiment for the class: imagine that Labour were in power and passed any legislation – say, to plant more native trees on public land, or to make it illegal to waterboard people – and then said “but you can’t see the advice we’ve made this decision on, and you can never ever challenge it.”

Oh, and passed it under urgency.

Just imagine it.  The Kiwiblog commentariat would shit themselves.  W****O**’s servers would probably explode.  You’d hear Cactus Kate’s screams all the way across the Pacific.

Add this to Sky City’s 35-year protection clause and our whole constitution just got taken out back and shot in the head, and National’s turned the corpse into a ventriloquist’s doll and is assuring us that democracy is just resting after a rather vigorous squawk.

We are so fucked.  And the mainstream media will probably do fuck-all about it.

The bigger picture

Despite Labour’s support continuing to flatline, I see a lot of commenters being optimistic – a lot of ancedotes about this relative or that coworker who’s traditionally been a National Party voter but is now reconsidering or even disavowing voting for them in 2014.

That’s … not necessarily a good thing, though.

Because there’s no assurance that those previous-National voters are switching to Labour or the Greens or even the Conservatives.  They’re fed up with Key, yes, but they’re not saying en masse, “we think [insert party] has the answers” – they’re just fed up.

This could simply mean that a chunk of people who voted for National in 2011/2008 just stay at home.

Technically, that’s a good thing for the left, if the left can get mobilised (remember, it was our peeps who stayed home the last two times, for (in my opinion) similar “don’t like any of you bastards” reasons).  We’ve got a proportional system which rewards the side who gets people to the polling booths.

The problem I have is that, good as the outcome might be for the country, it’s a bad thing for NZ democracy if a Labour/Green/whoever coalition is victorious largely because National voters stayed home this time.

If only because it says that a lot of voters don’t see enough substantive difference between National and Labour, as the coalition-bloc-leading parties, to be bothered picking one over the other.  But also because I believe that high turnout is a good thing.  It gives a real mandate to all parties involved.  It shows that people believe their vote can make a difference.

And it would mean that a left/centre-left coalition had really been chosen by the people. It would show they had earned it.  Not been allowed to slip into power because of the apathy of others.