Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A way to go yet

The Republican Movement has just released the results of its annual poll on whether we should become a republic, and it shows we have a way to go yet before putting the issue to the people. The poll of 1,018 New Zealanders asked which they would prefer when the Queen dies - Prince Charles as monarch, or a republic. 45% said they wanted Charles, 43% a republic, and 13% wouldn't answer or didn't know. But while its good that a republic is now level-pegging with the monarchy, we need that number to be consistently well over 50% before we can start pushing for a referendum; there's no point pushing it to a vote if we're going to lose.

So what can we do in the meantime? Keep talking obviously, and working to change minds. But also we can push for constitutional reform which lays the groundwork for a republic, while also producing a more democratic monarchy - things like codifying the reserve powers, expressly eliminating the Royal Assent, or even electing the Governor-General. Unfortunately neither of the major parties has much stomach for constitutional change (National because they conservative traditionalists, Labour out of fear of "rocking the boat" too much), which mans we will have to work through member's bills. Fortunately there are plenty of MPs with republican sentiments we can lobby to advance such bills.