Thursday, December 23, 2004


The Dominion Post reports that kiwis are indecisive on polling day because 30 percent of us make up our minds in the last months of an election (and 16% on the day itself). This compares with 7 percent of Britons and 4 percent of Americans deciding their vote at the last minute. But rather than "indecisiveness", this result shows something rather more positive: that New Zealand voters are politically more open-minded than their American or British counterparts.

In the US, the parties are highly partisan, and while there is traffic between the two camps, it is a Big Deal to change your lifelong political loyalties. A similar situation exists in the UK, where people are born, live, and die as Labour or Tory voters. By contrast, New Zealand has a far lower degree of party loyalty - and our democracy is far healthier for it. Our parties must actually convince people to vote for them, rather than simply working to mobilise their base. This acts as a moderating force on major party policies (which must have at least some appeal to the third of undecided voters), and makes for far greater engagement with the public. American and British voters should be so lucky.