How important is length of term for democracy?

There have now been a number of propenents for and against four year parliamentary terms.

Graeme Edgler makes a good point in A four-year parliamentary term? – those who want a four year term should prove the need for change.

It’s time for those who want this to actually convince a good sized-majority of everyone else that they are right. Start with me.

I’m not convinced either way yet.

And Bryce Edwards comes out against a change in We need more democracy not less – arguments against a 4-year term.

If we extend the parliamentary term from the current three years to four years, then quite simply the public has less say over how the country is run.

Yes, if nothing else changes. But hw important is the length of term for democracy?

But I don’t think the number of elections matters that much. The vast majority of people get mildly interested at each election and mostly try to avoid politics between elections.

I don’t think most people would notice or care if the term changed by a year.

I think it’s far more important is having more people interested and involved in political processes. And having better political processes available between elections.

So how can we improve our democracy? Maybe if politicians want to talk us into lengthening the term to four years they should be offering us something substantial to allow us much more say (and more effective say) between elections.

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  1. Steve W

     /  9th February 2013

    It’s in the nature of things that people would notice the consequences of a change to the length of the Parliamentary term without understanding their cause. A great example is MMP. It’s critics made all manner of dire prophecies….none of which have come to pass. Yet they still think they are correct. That they aren’t doesn’t mater to them.

    Similarly the 4 year term. The same people who though MMP was a bad idea think a 4 year term is a great idea. Arguments around the limitation of democracy inherent in expanding the window of accountability will mean nothing to them as they don’t value democracy anyway, seeing it only as an obstacle to “getting things done”. That most people don’t want done what these people want done isn’t relevant to them. They aren’t democrats.

  2. If we give up something, we need something back of commensurate value. Voter veto on newly added pieces of legislation (with suitable selection criteria on what items merit voter veto) and a few other things I’d need to think about..perhaps the option of voting politicians out instead of just “in”. Who says reality TV can’t be the basis for a political system?

    • Good to think of inovative ideas to improve how our democracy operates, we should be telling MPs and Government want we want. We should think outside the same old square and be innovative. Using TV, differently, should be at the top of the list.


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