Friday, October 31, 2008

A week out

A week out from the election, the fact that we can even talk
talk about the possibility of a Labour-led government being
elected is a tribute to the nerve, desperation and sheer
ratlike cunning with which Helen Clark and her Labour
Party colleagues have fought to retain power. Though
distasteful at times, it has been quite refreshing to see them
having to go for it like this. In a perverse sort of way it
seems more honest. At least it has got Clark off her pedestal
and onto the pavements again. She is even acknowledging
now that up until recently it had been impossible to ignore
the fact that voters wanted a change of government; but in
her view the global credit crisis has got people thinking
again. Well, she would say that, wouldn't she; but the first
part of that (reported) statement is quite an admission for
the PM to make. In fact, I think it's a first.

By all odds National should still win this election and take
power, even if only propped up by Rodney Hide and Peter
Dunne; but you just can’t rule out Labour squeaking back,
along with some combination of the Greens, the Maori
Party and maybe New Zealand First. Suggestions that such
a result might somehow be undemocratic if Labour wins
fewer votes than National betray a misunderstanding of
how MMP works; they indicate, in fact, how persistent the
“two major parties” mentality still is, as if only Labour or
National had the God-given right to rule this nation till the
end of time. MMP is not about making it easier for a “major
party” to govern; it’s about authentically reflecting the will
of the people, as the first-past-the-post system hardly ever
did. A three-, four- or five-party coalition is just as valid an
expression of that will as any. One reason alone for not
voting National, actually, is their transparent willingness to
tamper with or even abolish MMP. We’ve got this baby this
far; let’s not deny it the chance to grow up and reach

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