Thursday, February 07, 2013


So, both John Key and David Shearer support a four-year parliamentary term. Colour me unsurprised. Just as turkeys will always support delaying christmas, politicians will always support extra job security for themselves - even (OK, especially) if it comes at the price of less accountability to the people who elect them.

Oddly, though, neither Key nor Shearer really makes an argument in support of that longer term, sticking to general comments like "it makes more sense" and calling three years too short. Again, that's hardly surprising. Because when you unpack it, the "argument" for a four-year term basically boils down to the proposition that elected representatives would make better decisions if they didn't have to worry about what voters want. Which is a deeply undemocratic idea, and one which raises all sorts of questions about who these politicians think they are making decisions for (hint: if they're worried about what voters will think, its not us).

Fortunately, s268 of the Electoral Act limits their ability to change this without our consent. While it does allow changes to the length of the term with only a 75% supermajority, constitutional propriety will require a referendum. And if 1967 and 1990 are anything to go by, they will lose that by a wide margin. The question is whether they'll get the message this time...