National doesn’t get it.

John Key’s “Five-headed monster” comment is more than just ignorant of the deals he’ll need to do to get into government. (On latest polling trends he’d have his own “four-headed monster”)

It is ignorant of the entire purpose behind MMP. That purpose is co-operative democracy with many factions, where factions can’t risk trying to tear each other apart. It’s a more consensus approach to parliamentary democracy. By having “many heads”, (I prefer “more voices”) we avoid the problem of autocratic leaders who can unilaterally front unpopular policy. There needs to be the conviction not just of the governing party, but also the support parties to pass bills that might potentially be unpopular, but which the government deems necessary.

The system was instituted in Germany partly with the idea to prevent the rise of another autocratic1 party after World War II. It is highly revealing of the National Party that its leaders fail to understand that parties and coalitions do not need to be autocratic, where more voices are regarded as negative, distracting, and unmanageable.

Instead we can base decisions around consensus: (The philosophy of agreement) The core governing party might have a policy it wants implement. First it asks “Who would support our plan roughly as we propose it?” If enough of their partners sign up, the process of drafting the policy as a formal bill begins, then readings in parliament start, and minor amendments and are proposed and voted on until the bill passes. If not enough partners sign up immediately, the core of the government can then ask: “What would we need to change to get your support?” From there, it is a simple matter of finding a compromise position that suits all of the parties involved. It is easily managed, but requires diplomacy, co-operation, and the acknowledgement that every representative in Parliament is valuable, because they all represent a constituency.

Why is that so hard for National’s leaders to understand?

1While many people associate totalitarian governments that oppress the people with communism and socialism, “fascism” and “nazism” are the right-wing version of the same trend. All of these types of governments can be umbrella-ed as “autocratic”.

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10 thoughts on “National doesn’t get it.

  1. Sorry for the off-topic, but Farrar has attempted a Grand Smear of the whole Green policy platform – and his hounds are loving it!

  2. Nazism is a right-wing version? May I suggest you look up your history. From Wikipedia:

    “The Nazi Party, officially: National Socialist German Workers’ Party, (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP), was a political party in Germany between 1919 and 1945. It was known as the German Workers’ Party (DAP) before the name was changed in 1920.”

  3. And fascism is at best, difficult to define, though I’d accept there are right-wing versions. Again from Wikipedia:

    “The place of fascism in the political spectrum remains highly debated. Fascist leaders themselves produced different definitions of what part of the political spectrum their movement stood, in 1932, Mussolini professed about the twentieth century saying “This is a century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right’, a Fascist century”. However many Italian Fascists like Benito Mussolini were ex-socialists and ex-syndicalists, and upon the Fascists being ousted and then reinstalled in the German puppet Italian Social Republic, Mussolini and the Fascists professed to be a left-wing movement. In practice, fascism opposed communism, and liberalism but also laissez faire capitalism and conservatism and socialism.”

  4. Nazism is complicated. It had some left-wing beliefs and some right-wing beliefs. Most of the really objectionable stuff shares tendencies with right-wing beliefs, although certainly not all of it. Nazism is certainly to the right of communism and socialism, however.

    Facists have by and large been right-wing. It’s certainly not clear-cut either.

  5. Generally, I define them by what they do, now how they spin their ‘talk’.

    The National Front, for instance, is racist, homophobic and misogynist, and their actions reflect that, as well as their stated polices.
    They openly claim facism as a doctrine, and sport swastika tattoos, while waving NZ flags as a declaration of ‘nationalism’.

    Generally, they are bigoted bully-boy thugs, with the occasional thug-ess thrown in for ‘balance’.

    Not my future!
    more here:
    http://indymedia.org.nz/feature/display/71981/index.php

  6. Yep, the Nats just don’t want to get democracy or MMP.

    But, do the Greens? All the internal consensus decision-making processes mean little if a party does not respect and work to implement the views of the community they (supposedly) serve.

    I have concerns that the Greens may not be reflecting community views on social issues too well. Comments like Sue B’s that people will just ‘get over it’ on S59 with time (and she referenced the 1980s gay reforms as example).

    Will the Green MPs change Sue’s S59 law to reflect public opinion if next years referendum votes for change? Anything else smacks of tyranny, not democracy.

    And will the Greens spell out clear policies on life issues, like euthanasia, abortion and suicide? I know the party claims neutrality on many such issues, but the track record is voting for them. Worrying if the policy does not reflect the practise…

    Clarity, and democracy, please?

  7. Hey Square-

    The Greens are pragmatists, but not populists. We have our sets of principles and we stick with them, and while we let any member have their say on policies, they all have to sign up to the same four principles in order to join in the first place.

    We would change our mind on the repeal of §59 if we felt there was a problem with it in practice, according to our principles. We don’t, and we think that conservative lobbies have greatly confused an issue that’s very simple (removing a special defense that only existed for parents using force to assault their children) and turned the law in the public perception into something it isn’t. Smacking is now in much the same situation as a rugby tackle- you’re unlikely to be charged unless something seems fishy.

    As for policies on euthanasia, abortion, and suicide- I imagine we won’t be neutral on those forever, but we currently have no official policy. I assume that if someone else’s member’s bill were drawn on one of these issues, or if it caught the government by surprise in the next term and we had to deal with a bill, we’d probably formulate a policy then. Otherwise- everything on the agenda is in the policy pages, and our own members’ bills are likely to derive from some elements of those policies that matter to each MP in question.

    Essentially, “we haven’t got around to it”. I imagine though that given the strong feminist presence in the Green Party, our position on abortion might end up following that kind of ideology.

  8. Thanks Ari, for such a detailed response!

    I understand the Greens being a party based on the 4 principles, and not just knee-jerk reacting to every opinion poll, but who do the Green MPs represent then? You imply Green party members, who all sign up to those principles, but Green voters outnumber Green party members by a large factor!

    And overnight consultation charades like on the Green ETS position disillusion more than they enhance…

    The S59 was an example – you sem to think right-wingers brainwashed us all with slick marketing, but many of us simply feel the Green position may not help prevent child abuse. Worse, you seem to think no-one will be investigated or prosecuted for a light smack, but police have apparently already done over 80 such cases… (reported on Nats Kiwiblog from memory)

    I agree the Greens are likely to vote for totally unlimited abortion, euthanasia, suicide, etc. What concerns me is Greens claim of neutral/no position, while actually voting for all these. Smacks of a secret agenda? 😉

    So, do the Greens adhere to Edmund Burke’s ‘representative democracy’ – little more than 3-year elected dictatorships – or will they agree to a process for consulting and obeying the voters? That would be a radical, progressive, democractic move which would trump other parties and reassure voters 🙂

  9. Anyone who votes Green is certainly represented too and if they don’t want to be members they can and should contact a Green MP on any issues that concern them- best bet is someone who carries the portfolio they want to inquire about.

    And overnight consultation charades like on the Green ETS position disillusion more than they enhance…

    It was a tough decision and we actively sought feedback for a whole week beforehand. If you didn’t know until the last day, that sucks, but we tried to get the word out to everyone who was interested.

    The S59 was an example – you sem to think right-wingers brainwashed us all with slick marketing,

    No, I think their talking points were the ones the media presented most and they took control of the agenda on the debate very quickly. I understand that people can disagree with our position out of their own judgement or principles, and that’s the kind of disagreement I can respect.

    Worse, you seem to think no-one will be investigated or prosecuted for a light smack, but police have apparently already done over 80 such cases… (reported on Nats Kiwiblog from memory)

    All of which have been dismissed, because the process is working. If the law is too strong, we can weaken it, but what I’ve heard is mostly a bunch of scare stories that have been played up to cater to people’s worries. And I understand that they’re worried- but isn’t it better that parents are conscious of when and how they use violence against their children, regardless of their aim? It’s certainly helped recent anti-violence campaigns, and it’s even had a spillover effect on reporting rates for spousal abuse. I have to respectfully disagree that it’s “not helping”.

    I agree the Greens are likely to vote for totally unlimited abortion, euthanasia, suicide, etc. What concerns me is Greens claim of neutral/no position, while actually voting for all these. Smacks of a secret agenda? 😉

    I highly doubt we would vote for “unlimited” access to any of the above. Even the most radical pro-euthanasia campaigners want limits on that sort of thing.

    As for secret agendas- please, most parties you have to determine their policies by their voting records for everything that isn’t on their “pledge cards”. We put the whole detailed plans onto our website, yet you’re nitpicking us over an issue that we’re not even interested in advocating at the moment. I can send word around that people want policies on these three issues if you like, but I don’t expect it to happen in a hurry 😉 We’re not Labour or National- we don’t have the big money given to those parties so we depend a lot on people who are very motivated and willing to give their time and expertise for free, and because of that, formulating our policies takes time and patience. 🙂

    So, do the Greens adhere to Edmund Burke’s ‘representative democracy’ – little more than 3-year elected dictatorships – or will they agree to a process for consulting and obeying the voters?

    The Greens, and even some of the parties we’ve worked with like Labour, have been huge supporters of special committees and direct consultation with the electorates. We pushed for a people’s jury on the Electoral Finance Act despite strongly supporting its direction. We want to delegate more decisions directly to the people involved and to regional authorities. We just recently challenged the Nats over their RMA plans which remove consideration for city plans (and several justifications for individuals lodging environmental complaints, like damage to native species) from the Act.

    I’d say we’re doing a lot to make sure that we’re not a “vote and suffer” country. We’d love to do even more though, and if you see areas for improvement, by all means fire off an email. 🙂 This is a topic that I’d bet every single person on the Green list could talk to you about for hours, and it’s one of our big passions.

    edit: You know, this is probably worth a post, too. Might have something done for tomorrow.

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