If a political party, or combination of political parties, truly wanted a referendum they could just run one. It wouldn’t be governed by any legislation, but who cares? It would be just as powerful as a CIR (which relies on expressing public opinion and is not binding).
Political parties have access to electoral rolls, parliamentary service funding for material and postage, and free mail for people returning material to parliamentary addresses.
The parties would probably want Â to find some eminent people for a panel to oversee the decision on the question and the rules under which the referendum will be run. They’d also benefit from maximum transparency: invite in all the media who want to be there, ensure all meetings are open, all agendas and minutes are public, and so on.
Figuring out the question’s gonna be tough; that’s the key to a referendum and worth putting time and effort into consultation and getting it right.
But, seriously, just do it!
It doesn’t matter that National and Act don’t want one, run it anyway!
It doesn’t matter that National and Act will say it’s not binding, would they ignore the outcome?
Just do it!
Representational democracy in New Zealand necessarily fails entirely to live up toÂ its name. With a hundred and twenty people representing four million orÂ so, this should be obvious. It is a system that forces each voter toÂ make a choice using only at most a few of their views. Which party, orÂ which individual, represents the person who wants to ban genetically modified organisms and privatise the health system?Â
Even if the party you vote for is elected, they will hold different views from you and they will vote in ways you would not wish them to. In short they are not representing you.
This not only makes the choice a futile one, but also impoverishes any sort of debate or conversation, because the debates are led by politicians who work within blocks, and are covered by a media which is unable to tease out the individual issues.
This futility, and the requirement to give your vote to a package of policies, means we end up giving far too much power to politicians, and keeping far too little for ourselves. Indeed giving this power to politicians is a mistake. We give people whose motivation is largely to gain power the ability to say they are representing us although they have no desire to listen to our individual opinions, and there is no framework to force them to. Three yearly elections do not allow us to hold politicians to account on individual issues, or even individual actions.Â
The problem is not the frequency of our elections or the parties we are able to vote for, it is that the system itself does not allow for all of an individuals views to be represented. Every single one of us is effectively silenced on the majority of our views, and forced to listen politicians claiming to speak on our behalf.