Greens confuse democratic process with democratic votes

Despite what some try to claim he number of submissions in a democratic process is not a measure of popular support.

Submissions are not votes.

A high number of submissions promoting one view has become common, but they often mean that one view has been organised and promoted with mass submissions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei recently sent out an email that was predictably critical of the Government emissions target announcement but her argument is a bad example of the confusion of democratic process versus democratic votes.

Here are five reasons why this weak target should be a concern for all New Zealanders:

  1. This target undermines our democratic process. Back in May, thousands of New Zealanders participated in the Government’s climate consultation. An overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target) asked for a more ambitious target than what the Government is proposing. John Key’s administration has effectively ignored almost everyone who participated in the consultation, from doctors and business leaders to scientists and conservation groups.

For a start this doesn’t even give the total number of submissions, she just claims “an overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target)”.

How many submissions were there?

How many submissions didn’t specify a target?

But claiming “this target undermines our democratic process” is based either on ignorance of democracy (which is alarming from a party that claims to be more democratic than any other) or it is deliberately deceptive.

Submissions are an important  part of the democratic process, a means of giving the public a say.

But organising mass submissions has become common practice from parties like the Greens and also allied activists:

Like Generation Zero: Use our quick submission tool to call on the Government to commit to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier, and call for a global zero carbon target in the Paris deal.

This is our chance to call for a plan to Fix Our Future. Take a few minutes to add your voice by submitting below.

It’s easy to have your say. Just fill in your details and tick all the points you agree with.

Personalising your submission will really add weight to it so please add your own thoughts and comments at the end of the form.

In an open democracy like ours groups are free to organise mass submissions, a form of group speak.

But claiming that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure of support is an abuse of democracy, or ignorance of how democracy works.Metiria Turei

Either way a party leader should know better than to make claims like Turei has.

Are the Greens confused about democratic processes? Or are they deliberately trying to confuse?

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. The entire process of making submissions isn’t democratic because it implies that the decision rests with those to whom the submissions are made (from the root meaning of ‘submit’).

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  9th July 2015

      Submission is one of untold words whose meaning or shade of meaning has changed over hundreds or even thousands of years, It simply means a proposal or presentation. The root meaning is ‘to send under’. from the Latin sub and mittere.

      Reply
      • If they wanted a status-free term they could use ‘exposition’.

        submission (n.)
        late 14c., “act of referring to a third party for judgment or decision,” from Old French submission or directly from Latin submissionem (nominative submissio) “a lowering, letting down; sinking,” noun of action from past participle stem of submittere “to let down, put down, lower, reduce, yield” (see submit).

        Sense of “humble obedience” is first recorded mid-15c. Modern French submission has been replaced by doublet soumission. English in 16c.-17c. also had an adjective submiss “humble, submissive.” Submissionist in various political historical contexts is from 1828.

        Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  9th July 2015

    Turei is in the business of pretending a minority position is of overwhelming importance. That is her life’s work.

    Reply
  3. kittycatkin

     /  9th July 2015

    I have seen quite a few mass-produced ‘submissions’ in the form of printed postcards and such things, but have doubts as to their effectiveness, especially if all they have is a name, And at one meeting I attended, someone was taking around a petition and pressuring children to sign it-to the annoyance of more than one parent when they realised this.

    What a true, er, I mean unkind remark about Metiria Turei.

    Reply

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