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ImperatorFish: Why we must have a four-year parliamentary term

Written By: - Date published: 12:40 pm, February 8th, 2013 - 12 comments
Categories: democratic participation - Tags:

Scott at Imperator Fish has kindly given us permission to syndicate posts from his blog – the original of this post is here.

Let me put the debate to rest once and for all. Here are four compelling reasons.

Elections slow down decision-making and they tend to have a negative impact on the economy. 

So said John Key, our wise leader. And it’s a fact that countries that have four or five year parliamentary terms have better-performing economies. Like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

A system where the next election is never far away promotes short term thinking, where politicians are focused on doing what is popular rather than what is best for the country.

So just imagine how good our system would be if we did away with proper elections altogether. We could be the North Korea of the South Pacific. Our politicians could then get on with focusing on the important things, like improving our missile technologies, holding huge military parades, and developing a more nutritious grade of grass for our people to eat.

A four-year term would improve the behaviour of our politicians.

I’m a big fan of the UK parliamentary system. They have elections every five years, and their politicians are much better behaved than ours, as demonstrated by the impeccable behaviour of the Blair, Brown and Cameron administrations.

British MPs don’t allow themselves to get distracted by petty disputes. They just get on with the job. Who has time for such sordid squabbles when there’s a moat to be cleaned?

Longer electoral terms promote stability and allow governments to get things done.

Exactly! I often wonder what the Labour government of the 1980s might have been able to achieve if they had been given eight years to do their work, instead of six.

Our government certainly wouldn’t now be flogging off all our precious SOEs, would it? No, they’d have been sold for pennies years ago.

12 comments on “ImperatorFish: Why we must have a four-year parliamentary term”

  1. geoff 1

    Only allow 4 year terms IF the population can throw out a highly unpopular government before their term is up.

  2. Tiresias 2

    As we’re here duplicating an earlier posting I’m here duplicating part of my earlier response:

    Why do we even have General Elections? They bring the country to a standstill for months, saturate us with political snake-speak and baby-kissing but mean the politicians can ignore us all the rest of the time. And they often result in major policy shifts that are only just working themselves out when it all changes again.

    Let’s not forget that General Elections go back to the time when Parliament existed just to ‘advise’ the sovereign. The worthy burghers of a town or landowners in a rural area might elect one of their number to represent them but only the Crown could dismiss them, and then only by peroguing Parliament as a whole which meant the whole lot had to be re-elected in one hit.

    Why not divide the country into, say, 20 constituences each with 5 MPs one of which has to stand for election on a five-year cycle, so that every year there are 20 elections covering one-fifth of Parliament. Go even further and say that’s five ‘by-elections’ a quarter.

    Big constituencies mean the end of ‘safe-seats’, and with, say, STV would (in my hope) give smaller parties and even charismatic independents a fair chance.

    What’s not to like? MPs get a guaranteed five-years on the job but every three months a fifth of the electorate get to have their say on four of them – and on how they perceive the Government doing. A Government winning popular support for what they are doing – and how they are doing it – might steadily increase its majority over an unpopular or ineffective opposition. An unpopular Government will see its majority slipping away and know it has to make changes.

    It would certainly do away with the present “we’ll unveil our policy on x just before the next election’ evasive crap from the opposition. Also with the slamming through of unpopular legislation in the first couple of sessions of a Parliament in the expectation the public will have forgotten all about it when the next election comes around. Government and opposition will be constantly accountable.

    • Rich 2.1

      One person’s ‘charismatic independent’ is another’s ‘friggin loonie’.

      Look at Lhaws, Banks and Parker for the type of people an election system that encourages independent candidates throws up. Still, at least a system that elected ‘charismatic independents’ for five year terms would result in numerous by-elections as they got convicted, sent for compulsory treatment or otherwise forced to resign before their term was up.

      • Tiresias 2.1.1

        Agreed. On the other hand with only 20 Constituencies, each one would be six times the size of our current ones, with 150,000 voters. That’s a lot of people to fool, even for some of the time.

        You could have only one seat per Constituency coming up each time on a FPP basis = one election per Constituency per year, or all five coming up together with STV sorting out a bucket-load of candidates.

        And I think we could do with a few friggin’ loonies in Parliament speaking truth to Power like the licenced fools of old.

  3. AmaKiwi 3

    We have a parliamentary dictatorship.

    We have no checks and balances. No second house. Thanks to this National government one third of us have no local government (Auckland and Christchurch).

    Imperator Fish, if you don’t like elections, don’t participate. Ignore the campaigns. Go fishing.

    Argument #1 – “Elections have a negative impact on the economy.” Prove it!

    Argument #2 – This government is certainly not troubled by wanting to be popular. Given a 10 year term they would NOT do “what is best for the economy,” unless making richer people vastly richer is your idea of a good economy.

    Argument #3 above is moronic. You cannot show any causal relationship between length of term and behavior. You might just as well blame our MPs’ behavior on the ozone hole or Sky TV’s monopoly polluting on our brains. Personally, I would attribute it to inflated egos and too much booze, but I can’t prove that.

    Argument #4 – The damage they do in 3 years is bad enough. Don’t give them extra time to use their unbridled power to wreck our society and economy.

    What’s wrong with binding veto referendums?

    When parliament passes a bill we have 3 months to collect 25,000 signatures to force a binding referendum. If the referendum rejects the bill, it does not become law. The MPs recourse is to re-write the bill to be less objectionable to the people. We would get much more carefully crafted legislation. No MP wants to work hard to pass a bill only to have the voters bin it.

  4. Murray Olsen 4

    The inability of some people on the “left” to recognise satire really worries me. It may even be one of the main characteristics which make it difficult to convince people to join us. If I want humourless people to discuss with, I’ll find a Mormon, thank you very much.

    • AmaKiwi 4.1

      Thanks Murray. The problem is the level of political discussion is sometimes so pathetic one can’t tell what is satire and what is not.

      The Right Honorable John Key says elections have a negative impact on the economy. The MSM have all parroted his statement as if it is gospel. None of them have challenged him to prove it.

      I guess every Kiwi with a brain has taken their PhD and gone to Brisbane.

      • Murray Olsen 4.1.1

        I would have recognised that as satire long before I thought about doing a PhD, or working in Brisbane. I also recognise snarky comments when I see them, thank you very much.
        I do, however, think many left wing activists have a real problem in how they connect with people. We are unlikely to convince anyone that a better world is possible by boring them to death.

    • Green Viper 4.2

      Amen Murray..

      • Anne 4.2.1

        I always link to the Fish. There’s an ambiance to his blog-site that kind of gives away the satirical nature of his posts. And they’re easier to read. Apart from that the big clue was in the answer to the first reason!

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