Humble servants or powerful masters?
It’s Thursday, the promised day - will we get to know the flavour of our new government today?
That’s the plan of our newly elected representatives, but as Robert Burns penned in 1785, ‘‘the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men… gang aft agley’’.
As I write (Tuesday), the political parties are horse-trading their policies in an attempt to secure the power that occupation of the government benches confers.
I listen with despair to fruitless speculation as the media attempt to interpret vacuous responses to their questions.
I would rather they align their principles and then get on with the job of developing effective policies, but that is a topic for another time.
Perhaps you get from my choice of words, the contempt I hold this whole process in?
What unsettles me is the subversion of our democracy to ego and personal aggrandisement.
My belief is that politicians should be our humble servants and not our all-powerful masters.
Kennedy Graham, the Green MP taken out of contention for reelection because he was ‘‘pale, male and stale’’, demonstrated his wisdom in saying ‘‘Liberal democracy* requires a strong and healthy discussion culture…’’.
Where is that discussion culture now? Left behind in the rush to the finish post.
Democracy by definition means government of the people by the people, and can be exercised either directly by the people in our communities, or through our elected representatives.
Our system of representative democracy is now being held to ransom by one political party that chose not to announce which way it would lean in a hung election.
Had New Zealand First preannounced it’s choice of coalition partners, voters may have delivered a different election outcome.
Mr Peters egotistically sees NZF’s position as reflecting the way that MMP was meant to work.
But these shenanigans do not reflect a representative democracy.
If he holds to his campaign promise, of ‘‘There will be no surprises’’, then there can be only one outcome - his own supporters overwhelmingly want a coalition with Labour.
All this means that MMP is not a proper means to a representative democracy.
That is demonstrated also, in the ways that both National and Labour have sought to gerrymander the voting public to make this an FPP-like election.
In contemplating an electoral alternative, the three principles of sustainability policy come to mind: ecology, social and economic.
An election system focused on ranking these three principles, would balance the conflicting principles of the Greens (environmentalism), Labour (social justice) and National (economics) in a progressive way.
Such a system may bypass the conceit of personality politics and ego, instead encouraging humble servants. * liberal democracy a democratic system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially recognised and protected, and the exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law.
* John Allen is the director of Rural Connect, www.ruralconnect.org.nz www.smallWind.co.nz www.smallblock.org.nz
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