Tag Archives: politics

And On This Day

On this day, September 19, 1893, women in New Zealand were granted the vote. The women in New Zealand were the first world in the world to gain this right.

Kate Shepherd

In an interview on Radio NZ this morning, Charlotte Macdonald had this to say about this day

Kate Sheppard, the leader of the campaign for women’s right to vote in New Zealand, argued that women going to the polls was simply “just”. The “foundation of all political liberty”, she explained, was “that those who obey the law should be able to have a voice in choosing those who make the law”.

Parliament “should be the reflection of the wishes of the people”. A “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”, she argued, “should mean all the people, and not one half”.

Here in New Zealand, we have a General Election on Saturday, September 23.  We have had a lively few weeks with both major parties battling for the prize of forming a new Government for the next 3 years.  The protagonists, one experienced leader of the party that has been in control for the past nine years; and a new, inexperienced leader of the other major party having been a Member of Parliament for nine years.  So will experience or the new young blood prevail.  We will have to wait until Saturday to find out.

For the rest of the interval click here.

Note:  Charlotte Macdonald is a Professor of History in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations at Victoria University in Wellington

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen
tomorrow, next week, next mon
th, and next year.
And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen
Winston Churchill

Election Day

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people.  Of course, that is not true.
Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.”
Walter H. Judd
, American Politician, 1898-1994,

The Beehive, NZ

The Beehive is the common name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings

Election Day 2011.  But where is all the usual hype that attends an election?  Perhaps New Zealanders have had all the excitement they can bear for a year with the Rugby World Cup.  Or are they apathetic and don’t care who runs the country?  We are told that the National Party (the right) has an unassailable lead against Labour (the left) and all the minnow small parties that want a seat and a say.

We have a system of MMP ie Mixed Member Proportional voting whereby each person has two votes.  One for the candidate of their choice in their electorate and one for the party of their choice.  The party vote determines the number of seats a party holds in addition to those won in electorates.  This means that we have a lively mix of parties in parliament; some having only one or two seats.  Very different from the days of first past the post when only two parties ruled.

In the run up to the election we have had the leaders’ debates between leaders of National and Labour; we have had leaders debates of all the smaller parties who are likely to gain a seat in the next parliament.  But these debates have all been lack lustre and no one party or politician has come up with any good responses to the major questions bothering New Zealanders ie

  • What is to be done about the horrific statistics relating to  child abuse in New Zealand.
  • What is to be done about literacy and the numbers of New Zealand teens leaving school barely able to read or write
  • What is to be done about finding employment for these young people leaving school and also for the numbers people of all ages who cannot find a job.
  • What is to be done about the surging cost of living that leaves the ‘the man in the street’ way behind.

We have had lots of rhetoric but no real answers and of course, who really can come up with policies that are going to make a real difference to those of us on middle and lower incomes, not to say the poor.

So tonight while we are attending election day parties with friends, those people brave enough, or foolish enough, to want to step into the political ring, will wait to see whether the next three years will see them involved in governing this country.

Bottle of Champagne

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan
, American drama critic 1882-1958