Tuesday, June 07, 2005



Fixed election dates

In the Herald this morning, Colin James argues that the Prime Minister's ability to name the election date is an undemocratic throwback to monarchy, and instead calls for a fixed election date. I agree. The current system invites gaming by the government-of-the-day in an effort to influence the outcome - exactly as we are seeing now. This is not something we should tolerate in a democracy, and the quicker we tie the government's hands on this matter, the better. Elections are too important to allow them to be used as a plaything by the government for its own advantage.

6 comments:

Couldn't agree more. The election should start with a level playing field with the best team of the day coming through - without the government deciding when they are going to be at their best

Posted by Blu : 6/07/2005 10:50:00 AM

Good in principle but how do you distinguish a government that really can't continue due to lack of a majority, from one that just wants an election for political reasons? It could get very messy.

In a two party system there will nearly always be a majority somewhere. Under our system if Winston has the balance of power I see no reason to force us to endure that situation for three years if National and Labour can't or won't reach an accommodation with him.

Posted by Nigel Kearney : 6/07/2005 12:08:00 PM

i think you're overlooking the potential for a minor party to use a fixed date as a time to release sensational material and grab undue election coverage.

if you have fixed dates, there's nothing to say that the election couldn't be hi-jacked. At least by maintaining a little uncertainty you also get to ensure that a further dimension is added to the electoral process, a dimension that can act as a counter to the media.

Posted by the other 'Che' : 6/07/2005 12:34:00 PM

Yes, a fixed date would be a big improvement. Ideally election day should be an annual public holiday, for either national, local, or health board elections, plus referendums.

Obviously there'd have to be exception for the case of the government losing a confidence & supply vote, but that isn't really a problem, surely?

The current "uncertainty" acts as a "counter to the media" entirely to the benefit of the incumbent government - that's hardly fair. The media always gives far more coverage to the two biggest parties, and parties can already release sensational material during the election campaign - it's not as if the government is currently able to say "ok, election tomorrow!"

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 6/07/2005 04:10:00 PM

Find myself in agreement with most of the above.

My suggestion is we have some randomness in there by way of the first day of the parliamentary session in an election year beginning with each MP writing the date (a non-public holiday Saturday between 1 August and 10 December) on a piece of paper, putting it in a hat (or what have you) and the Chief Justice drawing the date.

The public holiday is a good idea but it could back-fire if it would create a long weekend. I think local body elections could be done that way where a personal appearance is necessary to vote and a half day as a public holiday so all the locals can attend.

Posted by Bomber : 6/07/2005 04:58:00 PM

Grr... I've been writing about this for months and they only just pick up on it now...

Posted by Lewis Holden : 6/08/2005 12:06:00 AM