Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: On Consensus

63 Responses

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    NZers used to be able to get seriously pissed off. I don't think it's in the national psyche any more. A gradually growing peeve is the limit of political stonk we've got left.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to BenWilson,

    The votes lost by supporting such a system.

    I'm suggesting the big parties might possibly go for it, which means their PR machines get on board. Ideally they both get on board and there's no fight about it at all.

    My take is the big parties have the option to point out that they can stop bending to the will of the little ones by getting more of them in to pick through. Labour can go anti-Green and National can go anti-ACT. That's probably a vote gainer for them anyway, give or take.

    Labour can quote that they only have to take the Green's good policies then, so as not to lose any green-leaning reds. Ditto for Nat and ACT.

    The people who only vote for either National and Labour (or stay home) should take any potential future difficulties easier if it directly cuts ACT and UF and NZF and Green off at the knees. The question would be on swing voters who already flop toward whoever TV talks about that cycle. If they all jumped on Winston running an anti-tiny-party campaign that could block everyone. Hard to know.


    Biggest difficulty would be getting the little parties on board. Some of them are really only a handful of people between elections. Have them set up with alternate sets of adds to run in the last week of the campaign.

    Since Nov 2006 • 607 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters,

    Not all are opposed to more parties in Parliament Ben, if by that you mean a lower threshold than 4% (a lower threshold does not necessarily mean more parties in Parliament) . Mana, wants a one seat threshold, and the Maori party wants it lowered also. Besides, other parties who are opposed are responding to the electoral commission tandem proposal to remove the one seat threshold, and retain a high pvt at 4%. Nat has relied on one seat parties for coalition partners, and there is nothing in the EC proposal for Act or United to support, and everything in it to oppose. It says something about the Electoral Commission, proposing self destruction for parties already in the House - guaranteeing hostility.
    Your analysis of engineering party support for a reduced pvt (What exactly is the threshold you are proposing Tussock) if fairly thorough, but it doesn't seem to include what the electorate thinks would be desirable, or how the issues around the party vote threshold might be aired so that they could make more informed judgments to communicate to the parties.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to BenWilson,

    Maybe related to where if you're angry, you're assumed to have lost the argument (even if there is no argument)?

    I'm not sure how long it has been around in our communal psyche, but I know there is nothing more annoying to me than someone who gets patronising because you're angry about something - their thought process is that you're angry therefore you must be irrational.

    We've lost rational anger, except as spectacle on the internets, and getting excited about that is irrational too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Globally, Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies gives interesting context.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Am I indulging in self interest if I point out:

    - that MMP is the fairest system by virtue of being the most proportional;
    - that a lower electorate threshold equals greater proportionality still;
    - that you can’t oppose the reduction of the electorate threshold without automatically displaying your own interest in its preservation;
    - and that you can support that reduction on the grounds of supporting a fairer system?

    No. Unless by supporting a fairer system I’m somehow making things worse.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Fair enough Steven, I guess I'm not sure exactly what every individual in parliament feels about thresholds. There may even be people in the big parties who feel the same way, that breaking off from their party might be less horrifying if there was at least a chance of forming a nationally oriented splinter group. Which is, I'd say, the biggest threat to the big parties, not little parties that might represent the current non-voters. In the end, the most horrifying thought of all is that the party system might break down completely, and individuals might vote according their own views of right and wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters,

    From what you are saying, are you in favour of a lowered threshold, or against it? I personally wouldn't have any problem with 60 individual parties or independents in the House, because in theory, each would be different from any other, and have their own basis of support, or voters who want that person/party to represent them. But this is highly unlikely to happen in practice, as MP's with similar fundamental principles would wish to gain strength in numbers, and coalesce..
    But is this the issue, as even with a 4% threshold, theoretically we could have 13 or 14 parties in the house, or is it more than this? So I don't see what the panic is about reducing the threshold, unless it is set in order to preserve the status quo of parties, and therefore existing unequal power relationships between social groups within society. In my view, our democracy doesn't belong to parties, it belongs to voters.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    We've lost rational anger

    and it pisses me off (seriously)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steven Peters,

    From what you are saying, are you in favour of a lowered threshold, or against it?

    Not sure if that's addressed to me, but if so, then yes, I've been in favour of a lowered threshold from the first moment that I heard of the stupid idea that we even had one at all, right back when MMP came in. I don't think there's anything good about parties, and MMP was an important move to compensate for the fact that parties form despite the intention of representative government being that representatives would govern, rather than parties. However flawed it was, it broke up the stupid left-right false dichotomy somewhat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes it was addressed to you, as in '.the most horrifying thought of all is that the party system might break down completely, and individuals might vote according their own views of right and wrong'. I am not sure that 'representative government' prohibits parties from acting as representatives, as you assert. I thought MMP came about because of a strong desire on the part of some to improve on our FPP plurality system, which was unfair to parties in terms of seats gained for votes, and therefore highly disproportional, and excluded minority groups/small parties.
    The left-right dichotomy is broken up somewhat? I would argue it still is the dominant electoral cleavage, Nat on the centre right, Labour and Greens centre left, and NZ First traditional centre. The proposals by the electoral commission proposals entrench this 'choice', in my view.

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steven Peters,

    Yes it was addressed to you, as in '.the most horrifying thought of all is that the party system might break down completely, and individuals might vote according their own views of right and wrong'.

    I was mocking that kind of thinking. Sorry about the lack of clarity - I am not horrified by the thought - party lovers are. Which is not me.

    I am not sure that 'representative government' prohibits parties from acting as representatives, as you assert.

    Of course it doesn't, otherwise we wouldn't have parties. What I'm saying is that parties have broken down the idea of representative government, which was to be a government of representatives, typically of a region. Each was allowed to vote and act in their own conscience. But of course even within a system that is supposed to decentralize power, powerful cliques form that take control. This is so normal that we barely notice it. Proportional representation was a response to this, a system that set out to specifically recognize that parties are actually the units of power, not individual representatives, and to allot them power proportional to their popular support.

    would argue it still is the dominant electoral cleavage, Nat on the centre right, Labour and Greens centre left, and NZ First traditional centre.

    It is, but prior to MMP it was nearly exclusive. Yes, you can line up the parties left to right, if you like. But you can also line them up in other dimensions now, and those dimensions do not become synonymous with left/right. It is possible, when you have a more than two parties, for issues to not fall across the left-right spectrum. For instance, ACT may be in full agreement with the Greens about some particular liberty that all the other parties actually disagree with.

    It's a step towards what I feel should be the inevitable thrust of democracy, that every dimension gets it's proportional representation, that no issue can be held down just by the tactical alignment of party views, no matter what it's level of popular support.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Peters, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes I took what you said at face value. So you want to see independent MP's who can act according to their 'own' conscience, and not part of a collective conscience ie a party. I would argue that a collective conscience can integrate a far larger amount of information from all its parts than can any individual conscience. A collective of individual consciences, working upon one another, can produce better social solutions ' than any individual conscience can, because it is more attuned to the collective, or society. A collective conscience is far greater than the sum of its parts. That is not to say that individual conscience is not important, as it is the fundamental unit of our society (or should be), but is just less 'social' than the collective, less complex, and less integrated with 'society', and it is also more influenced by the 'anti-social' individual ego.

    Secondly, is not the so-called 'independent' representative, just an embodiment of his/her constituents, just like a party is a body which is representative of its own constituents?
    I said above that the left right electorate cleavage is still dominant, but it is not the only one. Others, such as the social liberal vs conservative, and environmental sustainability vs consumption are also present, but are either loosely related or subsumed by the traditional economic.
    how would it be possible to include 'every dimension' within a a representative polity. Isn't that a theory form of anarchism in that, every individual view and its opposing view, would have to have a representative? Or failing that, we do not a 'representatives'in a social polity, as each individual is there own 'representative? Society is dead?

    CHCH • Since Oct 2012 • 96 posts Report Reply

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