Rotten ‘List’ Boroughs - why have we returned to the past in electoral terms?
In 1832, Britain in passing the “Great Reform Act” was instrumental in once again, following the early principal instituted in the signing of Magna Carta. It was followed by a long overdue Ballot Act of 1872, which introduced the secret Ballot.
The passing of these two Acts over time, allowed the majority of people to enjoy the privilege of being able to vote in their Representatives into Parliament; without the interference of privilege, or the fear of recrimination in the way a person votes.
The Reform Act of 1832 (the consequences of which we enjoy today as a sovereign State) removed the great impediment to universal franchise, before the Reform Act changes such as the Industrial Revolution transformed the distribution of vast numbers of people from rural into urban centres devoid of representation, thus creating an electoral imbalance. (Sound familiar?)
Question. “Just what has this got to do with the present New Zealand electoral system?
Quite simply, it has become closer to being identical in the same respects as the infamous “Rotten Boroughs”. In that we, the electors, only have voting rights for electorate members which under the MMP system results in a much reduced number of electoral seats and more none elected or appointed party List members. This will in the future, pose a problem with the vast increase in the size of Auckland”s population and many other Cities representation, as the rural areas become the new “Waste Lands”.
What will be interesting is how the Electoral Commission faces this problem of reducing or amalgamating the remaining rural electoral seats, to accommodate the extra Electoral and List members in our future House of Representatives?
At the same time still retaining the present limit on the size of our Parliamentary Representation?
Yes the majority of our population voted for a change from FPP to our present MMP electoral system; but now the full implications of this system have come home with a vengeance. We see majority parties unable to pass into law promises made in their election manifesto; (promises it transpires, that can swiftly be forgotten to suit the whims and cultural designs of a minority support party).
These minor parties now exercise a control which has resurrected “Political Blackmail” to new heights; even to the extent of the demise of democracy itself. There are many in our society mainly from the left, who would now willingly see an end to all electoral voting. In their ideology individualism is “verboten” so they promote, and use the failures in our Parliamentary democratic voting procedure system as an excuse for change.
Western democracies in general have moved away from what Joseph Locke (1632-1704) maintained was a ‘social contract’ that “rights resided with individuals, who decided rationally to combine into a civil society”. As opposed to Thomas Hobbes in his book “Leviathan” 1621. (Who supported the “Strong State” concept whereby citizens chose to surrender their rights to avoid anarchy?)
Now this country has moved to the appointment system which is rightly a Constitutional change that the public should decide (it can rightly be rename ‘A Rotten Borough Representation”). This has given one particular cultural ethnic group the right to special representation irrespective of the democratic electoral system. It follows that other groups will, in time, also make such claims and with a similar justification.
Whatever the outcome of our election, the National Party will continue to move towards a leftist political policy as a way simply to gain votes. We can be assured that without an effective major right wing party totally opposed to this undemocratic appointment system, that it will become acceptable; and in the future close the door to the vote as an individual right.
It is being instituted, in total disregard of any right of the Public for a democratic vote; it is a massive Constitutional change, enabling Maori to be represented by a back door method onto our Local Government Bodies under the guise of an Indigenous Cultural Right.
For an individual to be able to vote for representatives, be they to Central or Local Government, is a cherished and fundamental right which our forefathers fought long and hard and endured sacrifices that we can never comprehend.
Brian Arrandale is a keen scholar and writer with a background in farming and management.